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Timmins history: The first dog race set the stage for eventual winter carnivals

It’s winter carnival season.  South Porcupine just celebrated its carnival over the weekend. Local historian and museum director-curator Karen Bachmann says local carnivals grew out of dog races.

The first one – a 13-mile course from downtown Timmins through the mining camp and back – was organized for Sunday, March 19th, 1916.

“And then all of a sudden,” she narrates, “the Alliance for the Preservation of the Lord’s Day came up and said ‘You do realize that you are breaking the law by holding a dog race on a Sunday afternoon?’. So it was bumped to the next Saturday.”

Prizes were a gold trophy and silver tray for first place; a wristwatch for second – wristwatches were invented in that era – and a camera for third.

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Bachmann says there were certain requirements for the dogs pulling the sleds.

“You could have a team of up to four dogs. Your dog, however, had to have lived in the area for at least four months,” she says. “There was no bringing in any ringers, and don’t bring in your buddy’s best dog out of The Pas, Manitoba.”

More on early dog races morphing into winter carnivals, next Monday.

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