The first record of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Canada was an import from Cockney Charlie Lloyd. The grandsire was the notorious Tige, who sired many a game dog, including the dog called Major. Major produced Sandy the Scrapper who was born in 1907 and, at a young age of 3 months, became a member of the Munroe family in Vancouver, Canada. Sandy the Scrapper lived true to his name to the bitter end. Little is documented about the breed during those early years, but obviously many a Staff must have immigrated with their owners to become fond family members.
Then, around 1952, Jack and Myrtle Horn arrived in Canada from London, England with their two Staffords. The male was called Boy the sire was Ch Fearless Red of Bandits, the female was Molly O'Malley. The grandsire of Boy was Ch Gentleman Jim, who was the first English Champion of the breed. The bitch was called Red Rali of Bandits the sire Ch. Constones Cadet and the dam Spikeland Mad Madame. The dog and bitch had impressive pedigrees from notable kennels. They became the Horn's foundation stock of their Patty's Kennels.
A young teenager in Montreal by the name of Terrence Cooke was busy searching through some dog annuals to acquire a suitable four footed friend. When he saw a picture of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and followed up on its characteristics, he informed his parents that was the dog he wanted to own. His parents, Dr. Norman and Dr. Pat Cooke, made the necessary inquiries with the Candian Kennel Club and were directed to Patty Kennels where they purchased a dog called Patty's Red Baron in 1962. The whole family became so impressed with the dog that they soon returned to the Horn's to add Patty's Brindle Baroness to the family. They were also inspired by Jack and Myrtle to help promote the breed, by entering them in Championship Shows.
I met the Cookes at a CKC shows around 1963/64. They were keen to form the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Canada. They had contacted other clubs in the UK seeking direction and advice on the bylaws and constitution in general. I offered several constitutions from breed clubs, and my support to help form our Stafford Breed Club. As a founding member my interest was whole-hearted, especially as my father had Staffords from the Looe kennel owned by the renowned Tom Walls, who was a well-liked film star, and race horse Derby winner breeder and Stafford fancier. He often helped to promote recognition of the breed by having his favourite Staff called Buller of Looe act with him in his films. Tom Walls also became the first President of the Southern Counties Staffordshire Bull Terrier Society.
With this early interest in Staffords from my father, I was indeed most keen to help the formation of our Club, which was finally incorporated in the kitchen of Jack and Myrtle Horn, Patty's Kennels in December, 1965. The first newsletter appeared in April, 1966 and recognition was published in the Dogs in Canada magazine. Our immediate objective was to arrange to hold Booster Shows and gain interest, before we could have our first Specialty Show, one official aim of every breed club. The first two Boosters were held in Montreal in April 1966, and in Toronto in September, 1966. However, the show year, so far as we know, started for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier started at the Canadian Sportsman National Show held in Toronto on March 12 with the largest entry of Staffords shown in Canada.
At the launching of our first Booster show in Montreal, it was a special event complete with the Club's emblem of a Stafford mounted on a maple leaf, with the Club's full title and on the bottom the Club's motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit". An impressive sight to behold with each dogs name on the back of its bench. The Club's emblem is retained today and will be prized forever. The Stafford dog depicted on the maple leaf represents Ch. Fearless Red of Bandits.
The Club soon received considerable publicity since it was formed including a write up in the English Dog World by John Gordon, the author of many Stafford books. He bred under the prefix of "Bandits". Usually three Boosters were held each year, in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. With the growing interest, it is important to mention that several imports arrived to maintain the standard and balance required. We were aware that the breed had long ago advanced from the over, loaded bull dog or the slight rat, terrier image. The desirable Stafford is a superb balance displaying the strength and power of the bull dog and the agility and alertness in the eye of the terrier. Apart from the Bandits line from John Gordon and Constone line from Nat Cairn, the Horns imported from the notable Linksberry Kennels. The Cookes, who had now started to breed under the Terrco registration which they chose to honour their son, were importing from the Eastholm Kennels and the Rossile Kennels. A very fine red dog was imported from the famous Jolihem Kennels of Lionel Hemstock for Aubrey Minshall
Unfortunately, this dog got loose and although a reward was offered by Mr. Minshall, he dog was never found. I would like to add an amusing note to the effect that the breeder Lionel Hemstock always reminded me of King Henry the Eighth as he stalked around with a superb brace in one hand, and a sizable walking stick in the other complete with a challenging twinkle in his eye. Mrs. Gent brought over a bitch puppy from England called Bandit's Angelique.
I had already got my Winston named Rellim Battle of Britain a litter brother from the well known Rellim Kennels, Rellim Centennial Boy went to a Montreal couple who later went to BC. Incidentally, some time later a Stafford couple out for a ride saw that Staff walking along in a ditch on his own. Recognizing the breed, they stopped to pick him up and took him home. They contacted the S.P.C.A. in hopes of locating the owner. They also phoned the Club's secretary Pat Cooke, who immediately got in touch with the S.P.C.A. to inform them that she would fly out to collect the dog if the owner didn't claim the dog. The dog, at some earlier time had lost an eye, but otherwise was in good condition. Pat arrived in BC to collect the Stafford, but another Stafford owner who had a 17 year old bitch, was anxious to take the dog. Rellim Centennial Boy soon adapted to his new home with Mr Giblin, and brought life back to his 17 year old bitch. For obvious reasons, Giblin renamed him Nelson. This was the Club's first attempt at a rescue. Many have followed throughout the years. A rescue fund was established, and is active today in the capable dedicated hands of Kim Young who responds to all Humane Society inquiries and any queer newspaper ads.
The Club decided to hold an All Breed Sanction Show, in hopes of making enough to cover costs to finance a Specialty Show. This was indeed a challenge for a few of us to operate. It was held in Toronto and I arrived the day before to assist in any way possible. It was a remarkable success, a lot of work and a lot of fun which made our Specialty Show possible to be held in Ottawa in 1972. Our first Specialty took on the flair of a spectacular Hollywood production. Norman Cooke arrived with the longest white board with our Club's name engraved on it, to be supported by two substantial metal poles. Other metal poles were installed with each dog's name plate attached. The team work was just fabulous, and I feel it is important to mention that whatever the problem large or small, we tackled it in order to bring success on this momentous occasion.
Just to highlight one incident, we found that we needed a long table to display the Club's trophies, books, badges and other items, so one member dashed home to dismantle a door which we covered with a suitable cloth and supported on two crates. The dog show knew that we had indeed arrived in style. We had a grand entry of and two from the States. We followed Myrtle's incentive to use every form of media to advertise the Breed and especially, to emphasize the trustworthy characteristics that make the Stafford a devoted member of the family. We also needed to familiarize the Judges on the standard, in contrast to the American Staffordshire Terrier. It was also noted that some Judges felt it necessary to adjust the pastern to line up straight as in an Airedale, where as the Stafford should have slightly turned out pasterns to allow proper balance to make a quick turn about if necessary. All these features needed our attention. Our children joined the junior handling competition and, with their Staffords, they presented a lovable profile and excellent public relations.
My opportunity to contribute to public interest came when the production of the film "The Battle of Britain" was made. It was premiered in England by the Queen, in Toronto by Prince Phillip, and in Ottawa by the Governor General Roland Mitchener. Were invited along with Winston, whose registered title both in the UK and Canada was CH Rellim Battle of Britain. We had a display at the theatre with the largest Union Jack that completely covered the entrance hall, along with some of Winston's awards and ribbons, and we had an honorary Cadet Guard as we were presented to the Governor General and other dignitaries. I was proud indeed to mention that the title truly represents the spirit of the Breed. I later received a letter from Her Majesty the Queen and one from Douglas Bader, the legless Squadron Leader of the Battle of Britain. From this publicity, we were invited to join the Orpheus Society to be part of their production of Oliver. Naturally they wanted Winston to be Bill Sykes dog. It is evident by the early prints at the Curiosity Shop in London,England, that Charles Dickens had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in this drama. The director of Oliver decided that I should be hidden in a coffin on stage, to assure that Winston didn't miss his cue!! Oh, the things I do for our lovable Breed !!! Incidently, when the first film presentation of Oliver Twist was produced in London, the Stafford was called Jake the Rake and was owned by Jimmy Russ.
The Club has matured, through the years thanks to its dedicated members. We have upgraded the cumbersome metal poles and heavy equipment that needed a truck to transport. Today we have a beautiful royal blue silk banner that was hand crafted by Connie Blakley he wife of a former President. Some of us were given the task of edging the letters with gold trim. We also have a matching tablecloth to present our trophies on. For the record I should add that the first Stafford to receive CDX in Obedience was the Duchess of Lastin, sired by Winston and the dam was Angelique.
It is due to the foresight of our first President, Dr Norman Cooke, who drafted the constitution that gave us the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Canada, that we do not compete province against province. From coast to coast, we work together for the benefit of our Breed. We are indeed a unique Club which can boast that we represent the largest terrain in the world. We would like to conclude by paying tribute to Myrtle and Jack Horn who are the pioneers of the Breed here in Canada, and to Terrence Cooke a boy and his dog who made our Club possible.
By Squibs Mercier