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The Bearded Collie Club of Canada is 25 Years Old...
A Look Back

by Lois Gaspar

As we prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the BCCC at the National Specialty on August 15, 16, 17, 1995, it is fitting to look to the past and recall the early years, especially 1970. Here is a quote from Vol. 1, Issue 1 (October 1970) of the Bearded Colleague:


How many of us can recall "The Magnificent Seven"? No, I’m not referring to the Movie (mention the movie and the theme music keeps going around in my head!), but to the first 7 Beardies in Canada, the ones on whom CKC recognition of the breed was granted. As listed in the Fall 1971 Bearded Colleague, here are the Beardies that paved the way for us today:

• Bracky of Bothkennar (arrived 1963) - owner: Muriel Ratner
• Wishanger Marsh Pimpernel (arrived 1968) - owner: Carol Gold
• Osmart Brown Barnaby (arrived 1970) - owner: David & Linda MacLennan
• Osmart Black Cherry (arrived 1970) - owner: Bob & Helen Wilson
• Tarskavaig Black Maria (arrived 1970) - owner: Barbara Blake
• Tarskavaig Black Velvet (arrived 1970) - owner: Alice (Bixler) Clark
• Cynpeg’s Hillbilly (arrived 1970) - owner: Alice (Bixler) Clark

By late 1970, there were 24 Beardies known to be in Canada (12 in Toronto, 4 in Montreal, 3 in the Hamilton area, 2 in Calgary and one each in Trenton, Waterloo and Regina). This is compared to a year earlier when there were only 4 in the entire country! By late 1971 there were 50 - obviously the Beardie bounce was winning hearts in Canada!

The "Show Reports" from December 1970 demonstrates how the the pioneers of the breed got out to the shows where the Beardie could be seen in competition. And yes there was discussion about educating judges about the Bearded Collie since few knew what they were. Show results were reported by the Beardie’s call name: Mister, Gael, Britt, Scott, Velvet, Mia, Muffin, Blue, and Dusty, (with the registered name included in brackets) - after all everyone knew all the dogs!

These show reports also give clues to the pioneers of the breed: Carol Gold, Alice Clark, Barb Blake, Audrey Benbow, and Audrey Gray, all of whom appear to have had a very busy time at shows in the fall of 1970. Another early pioneer was the late Irene Leduc of Montreal who was Vice-President of the BCCC in those very early years of the Club. Those early years were spent not only going to shows, but also holding the required matches in order to qualify to put on a Specialty. The pioneers of our breed accomplished a great deal in a short period of time. Their commitment and concern is evident in the pages of the Bearded Colleague.

Speaking of Show results, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge some important firsts for the breed: the first Beardie to become a Canadian champion was Carol Gold’s Gael (Ch. Wishanger Marsh Pimpernel), who finished in November 1970;the first National Specialty was held in 1973, with Best of Breed won by Ch. Wishanger Marsh Pimpernel CD, Best of Opposite Sex, Best of Winner and Winners Bitch being Raggmopp First Lady, and Winners Dog being Raggmopp First Chance; and the first Beardie to win an all-breed "Best in Show" was Hamish (Can/Am/Bda Ch. Willowferry Victor), owned by Barb Blake.

The health and well being of Beardies has been discussed from the early years. By the fall of 1971, The Bearded Colleague was addressing the issue of hip dysplasia in Beardies. According to the article, the first known Beardie with hip dysplasia was in England in about 1967. The Colleague then began to publish the names and results of Beardies whose hips were X-rayed and ads included X-ray results.

In 25 years how far have we come? We are still going to shows, still trying to educate judge’s and the public about the Beardie ("no, it’s not an Old English Sheepdog with a tail"), and we are still concerned about the health and well-being of our beloved Beardies, only now our concerns are more far ranging. From a beginning of about seven members, the BCCC now has over 200 members. From 1 Beardie in 1963 to how many Beardies in 1995? Have we improved the Beardie in Canada? Yes we have. There is always a beginning and we are always trying to improve towards that "ideal Beardie" of the Standard. That’s what the pioneers of the breed did back in the early 1970's.

I would like to thank Barbara Blake for the loan of her early editions of the Bearded Colleague which made fascinating reading and without which this brief overview would not have been possible.

And thank you to Carol, Alice, Barb, Muriel, the MacLennans, the Wilsons, Jean Jagersma, Audrey Benbow, Audrey Gray, and to others: Christine Wilson, the Bergmans, the Ogstons, the Caseys and Jean Pierre Guerin (a past President of the BCCC) who were all pioneers in the early years of the breed and the Club.

Without you, were would we be?


Copyright © 1997 [Lois Gaspar]
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Last revised: March 15, 2012