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How Nell the city dog answered the call of the wild

In this edition of Remember This, the Timmins Museum and National Exhibition Centre looks back on the story of Nell, the beloved companion of prospector Charles Auer in 1907
Nell jumps to catch a treat from Charlie Reynolds. Nell accompanied prospector Charles Auer from Detroit on an expedition to Night Hawk Lake in 1907. Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre

From the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre:

Charles Auer was a prospector and pioneer who travelled around the Porcupine and Matheson area in the early 1900s. His journals from 1907/08 provide a colourful description of the many adventures he encountered with his faithful companion, Nell.

Nell was a city dog, picked up in Detroit where Auer was living at the time. As such, she had to learn many new skills including sitting still in a tippy canoe while it shot down the rapids, or pulling a heavily loaded toboggan across the sheer ice of a frozen lake.

Nell answered the call of the wild courageously and enthusiastically. Auer described her awe at first experiencing the dense forests of Northern Ontario, and how she “chased every squirrel encountered”.

She proved to be a valuable friend and teammate. At Christmas when Auer felt homesick, he put up a Christmas tree in his small cabin and decorated it with flapjacks and pieces of moose meat so that Nell would walk around the tree and gaze longingly at her presents like an eager child.

And when Auer was very ill and struggling to continue along the trail, he wrote “Nell was commander of the expedition this day. She seemed to know that there was something wrong and would walk a few feet ahead of me turning every step or two to see if I was coming and when I stopped, coming back seemingly to encourage me.”

No doubt Nell earned an extra treat or two that evening.

Each week, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Timmins Museum has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here.