Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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fort yorkFort York on Toronto Harbor, early nineteenth century

The Toronto and North York Hunt is proud of the long history of its pack of English foxhounds. Early in the nineteenth century, British military men, fond of sport, shipped hounds across the Atlantic to Fort York, which guarded Toronto Harbour on Lake Ontario. Not long after the City of Toronto was incorporated in 1834, we find mention of the Toronto Hunt. Between 1843 and 1869, eight of the hunt's nine Masters were army officers.

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 farquhar trophy denyaCanadian Grand Champion Farquhar with (l–r) Apprentice Judge Katherine Selby, huntsman, Green Mountain Hounds (VT); Judge Dr. Jon Moody, MFH, Mooreland Hunt (AL); Toronto and North York huntsman John Harrison; Mrs. Alice Tyacke; and Judge Richard Tyacke, MFH and huntsman, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s (UK). /  Denya Massey photo

Toronto and North York Farquhar 2014 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the Canadian Foxhound Show on Saturday, June 18, 2016. This was the third Grand Championship for the hunt in the last three years.

It has to be exceptionally gratifying to John Harrison, who returned as huntsman just two years ago, as all three grand champions go back to bloodlines he introduced to the pack during his earlier term as huntsman twenty years ago. Common to the pedigrees of all three, going back three generations, is Toronto and North York Crafty 1995 by their Freedom 1992.

In 1995, while Harrison was hunting the Toronto and North York pack in his first stint (1991 to 1996), he received a draft from the Berkeley (UK). One was Ballad 1987, who arrived in whelp to Berkeley Freshman 1984. Freshman was by Captain Ronnie Wallace’s Exmoor Freestone 1981. “Freestone is the key,” Harrison said.

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tny cleopatraCanadian Grand Champion of Show is Toronto and North York Cleopatra 2012 / Mary Raphael photo

Two Toronto and North York littermates have dominated the Grand Champion and Reserve awards at the Canadian Foxhound Show for two years running. The only difference this year was that the dog hound graciously swapped places with his litter sister. On June 6, 2015, in a reversal of fortune, Toronto and North York Cleopatra 2012, last year’s Reserve Grand Champion, was crowned Grand Champion of Show, while her litter brother Clarence, last year’s Grand Champion, settled for Reserve.

The show judges were Major Tim Easby, Director, Masters of Foxhounds Association (UK) and ex-MFH and huntsman of the Middleton and West Yore Foxhounds and Lt. Col. Robert Ferrer, USMC-Retired and MFH, Caroline Hunt (VA).

Cleopatra's sire is Blue Ridge Barnfield 2010 by Duke of Beaufort's Bailey 2003. If Bailey sounds familiar, have a look at the article about this year’s Bryn Mawr Grand Champion, New Market-Middleton Valley Widget, crowned just one week earlier. Widget’s sire was Green Spring Valley Bailey by Duke of Beaufort’s Bailey. That makes two Grand Champions in two weeks whose grand sire is Duke of Beaufort’s Bailey!

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 canadian14.mary raphaelToronto and North York huntsman John Harrison gets his hounds moving for the judges. / Mary Raphael photo

Toronto and North York Clarence 2012 was judged Grand Champion of the Canadian Foxhound Show at the Ottawa Valley Hunt Farm on June 14, 2014. Judges were Messrs. C. Martin Scott, ex-MFH, Vale of the White Horse (UK) and Mason Lampton, MFH, Midland Foxhounds (GA).

It wasn’t too long ago that the Canadian hunts showed mainly English foxhounds, but the Canadian show now offers classes for both English and Crossbred Champions. With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that this year’s Grand Champion, while considered English based on the high percentage of English bloodlines in his pedigree, goes back in tail female to Midland Crossbred lines and on his sire’s side to a strong Blue Ridge female line of Crossbreds.

Clarence’s dam, Toronto and North York Clinic 2006, was a Crossbred hound out of a Midland female.* His sire, Blue Ridge Barnfield 2010, goes back in tail male to strong English lines of which Judge Martin Scott makes note:

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bellemeade.2014.gianniniEpp Wilson, MFH and huntsman of the Belle Meade Hunt brings hounds to the first draw to kick off "Gone Away with the Wind" Hunt Week. Whippers-in Lucy Bell (left) and Natalie Gilmore flank the pack. / Lauren R. Giannini photo

“We have arranged to have ten coyotes on standby for your hunting pleasure today,” announced Joint-MFH Charlie Lewis as he welcomed guests to the opening meet of Belle Meade’s “Gone Away with the Wind” Hunt Week. It was Monday, January 27, 2014 in Thomson, Georgia. The footing was perfect and the sun was shining.

The following day it snowed, closing schools, paralyzing the Atlanta area, and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. The Belle Meade hosts were resilient, however, improvising substitute activities for members and guests for the very few events that had to be modified.

Hunt Week guests had come from the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA), Bull Run Hunt (VA), Golden’s Bridge Hounds (NY), Marlborough Hunt (MD), Millbrook Hunt (NY), Montreal Hunt (PQ), Moore County Hounds (NC), the Potomac Hunt (MD), Toronto and North York Hunt (ON), and the Whiskey Road Hounds (SC).

The Meet
The Belle Meade hounds typically meet at three o’clock in the afternoon. In the warmish environs of north Georgia, Senior Master and huntsman Epp Wilson likes to hunt as temperatures are dropping and scent is improving. Of course it often results in riders hacking back in the dark, and even jumping fences after sunset—an adventure in its own right for many followers!

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