From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:
In 1935, a lone wolf was spotted on Dawson Island, 34 miles from Sault Ste. Marie. With no traces of deer on the island, the idea of a wolf living there seemed strange. Alarm bells were raised and a hunting party was gathered.
The 'army' of hunters sent to deal with the wolf included Sault Star publisher James W. Curran, marksman Tom Jondreau, “almost grey wolf” Dunc Fremlin, woodsman Al Fisher, “bush addict” Dunc McMillan, “good sport” Bill Bradshaw, and former Great Lakes president Lynn Hollingsworth. The group had arrived in the early afternoon and started searching the mile-wide island for any signs of the wolf. A den was soon located along the southern coast.
The exit was immediately blocked and the hunting party moved towards the entrance to begin what Curran described as “the siege”. Bradshaw, “the most competent engineer in the party”, dug around the entrance of the den, telling his fellow hunters he could hear the wolf muttering just a few feet inside. He crammed a long pointed stick through the hole and discovered the wolf’s living room just below the surface.
With “the ardour of a scientist”, Fremlin crawled into the den on his stomach. Moments later he was pulled out, gasping for air, exclaiming “My gosh, boys, maybe it’s a skunk”. The suffocating odour gave the party pause. Skunks were known to be brave roommates of foxes and wolves, and there was evidence of more than one animal living in the den. However, wolves were more than capable of carrying a stench that rivalled the smelliest of animals.
The hunting party ignited a small fire at the den entrance, in hopes of both smoking out the wolf and extinguishing the foul aroma. McMillan considered digging with a pickaxe or a shovel, but the consensus was that it would involve too much manual labour. Instead, another long stick jabbed into the hole and eventually, a tail appeared at the edge of the den.
“I see the tail” Jondreau yelled, grabbing it with his hand. Someone told Jondreau to grab his gun, who then passed hold of the tail to Hollingsworth. As the party raced for their rifles, Hollingsworth heaved with all of his might and the wolf was launched into the air. According to Curran, it was “the throw of the century”, with a trajectory of eight or ten feet.
Jondreau fired a shot at the airborne animal and missed, taking quick account of his fellow men and the two hunting dogs chained to nearby trees. The wolf landed, leapt twice into the bush and “vanished like the fabric of a dream”.
The dogs chased their prey into the woods. The party jested to Hollingsworth that he should have counted to three before heaving the wolf from the hole, giving everyone a fair chance to shoot.
An hour later, the dogs returned without success. The wolf had eluded them in the woods, heading south and swimming one hundred feet across the lake to Portlock Island. According to Curran, the wolf continued escaping hunters another four times. Whether the wolf was ever captured remains to be seen.
Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.