After rumours of gold in the Porcupine reached prospectors in the south, many chose to make the trek along the Porcupine Trail in the winter when frozen waterways and a blanket of snow would offer an easier and faster means of travel. Technologies developed for the northern climate by Aboriginal peoples were adopted by the fortune seekers in order to complete the journey successfully. For example, prospectors who could afford it used dogs to pull toboggans loaded with their goods.
As the population of the gold camp grew, it was not uncommon for families to have a few dogs to help with chores and transportation. Leo Delvillano recalls his childhood in Timmins, “But we always had a dog team to go and get wood for the wood stove. […] the dog teams were pretty common.”
One winter’s day in 1916, a few enterprising community citizens with not much to do organized a dog race for fun. Teams were put together, mostly consisting of local prospectors, and regulations were laid out in the Porcupine Advance. The teams would race from South Porcupine to Timmins and back, a total of 22 kilometers. The race was so popular that business was effectively shut down the day of the race due to everyone wanting to attend and it became an annual event.
Each week, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.