A Day for Historical Dogs (and Cats and Foxes too!)

Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

We are quickly approaching one of our most popular “new” events here at Fanshawe Pioneer Village - A Day for the Dogs - on Sunday, August 14th. Sadly, our collection contains little that has to do with dogs or even pets in general, but I did manage to find a related artifact that has a fascinating story to tell!

What you are looking at is a reversed image of a print block used to make labels for a product called “eff-eff”; a flea and lice powder for dogs, cats, and foxes, produced by The french Remedy Company, Ltd., of Victoria, British Columbia.

Dr. Cecil French was a British-born veterinarian who made a fortune selling pet medicines and used the unusual archaic spelling of his family name on his products. He had been a brilliant scholar at McGill University in Montreal after which he established a successful veterinary practice in Washington, D.C., including treating President Teddy Roosevelt’s dogs.

In 1917, at the age of 45, he joined the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps as a captain. While serving with the No. 2 Canadian Veterinary Hospital he was asked to compile the history of the corps. This resulted in “an anecdotal and sometimes colourful account” entitled “A History of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps in the Great War, 1914-1919”. The book continues to be a primary source of reference for modern day researchers of World War One history.

Photograph courtesy of Library Archives Canada’s Digitized Collection

After the war Dr. French moved to Victoria, BC, where he operated a boating company for a short time before moving his animal medicine business to the city in 1927. He and his wife lived in the Empress Hotel for many years and were a familiar sight cruising the streets of downtown in their 1912 Detroit Electric car.