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How High Park became Toronto’s “country” sanctuary

April 7, 2016

By: The Star

It was a Toronto winter carnival unlike any other – if only because it featured a “Wolf Man.” On Saturday Jan. 31, 1925, tens of thousands of Torontonians cheered in High Park while they watched “Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme” drive a sled team of timber wolves and huskies across Grenadier pond and up onto the snowy slopes of the park, dashing around on a circuit.

The Toronto Daily Star had brought LaFlamme – a trapper, dog sledder and hotelier – and his team in from the Northern Ontario town of Gogama (near Sudbury) as the highlight of the High Park winter carnival, organized by the newspaper. Various winter sports, such as skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, were demonstrated and competitive events held.

Although LaFlamme was apt at wrangling the wolves (aside from one wee mishap in which a wolf escaped for a day before being recaptured) a Star article warned people: “don’t let your children or dogs near them.”

The carnival was, well, a howling success with the city forced to add more streetcars to ferry people to High Park where the Star estimated 50,000 had gathered for the event.

In an editorial the Star opined that if the event made people “visit High Park and Grenadier Pond” and discover the “great winter playground” that was on their doorstop, it would be worthwhile.

By: The Star

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