Manchesters in Canada
By Pennyann Styles
Dogs in Canada "Breedlines"
Published in 2005
The Manchester Terrier has been in my family for
over one hundred years. Our love affair with this breed began in 1879
when my great-grandfather, Fred C. McLean, was only 15 years old. An
American doctor vacationing and staying with the McLean family in the
rural area of Ottawa, Ontario brought with him his small Black and Tan
Terrier. Great-grandfather fell in love with this little dog! Whether
it was the bond between the dog and the boy or an admiration for young
Fred we’ll never know, but the doctor was so impressed that he gave his
dog to my great-grandfather. The Manchester Magic for the
McLeans had begun. Three more generations, myself included,
would succumb to the breed’s spell.
Fred wasn’t, however, satisfied with only one
He was fiercely determined to have more of these black beauties.
In fact, he wanted to own and produce the finest of the breed. Not
just in Ottawa, Ontario
or even Canada,
but in all of North America!
And he would achieve it. A
man without means, without any prior involvement with dogs or the breed,
living in a small village… even today, it would be a remarkable if not
impossible dream, but in the 1880’s it was unbelievable.
In the 1880’s, Fred McLean moved to
Quebec, where he founded his now famous
Willowdale Kennels. As he wanted the best Manchesters to form the
nucleus of his kennel, he began importing them from
Great Britain, their country of origin.
I believe that the first imported dog was “Ringmaster” born in 1897 in
Scotland. Ch. Ringmaster
became the sire of numerous other top-winning Manchesters in
Tragedy struck in 1900, when fire destroyed almost
the entire city of Hull.
According to my grandfather Mac, then age five, Fred chained the dogs
to the baby carriage (with baby brother inside), grabbed Mac’s hand and
with his wife scrambled to safety. He had to begin his dream again.
Undaunted, the saved dogs became the foundation of the reorganized
In 1901, with other devoted fanciers, from both
and the United States,
Fred established the first Manchester Terrier Club, known as the Black &
Tan Terrier Club of North America.
He was elected the first president and held that office for many
years. The club published a booklet comprising the constitution and
bylaws of the club, breed standard, scale of points, names of officers
and executive committee, as well as various advertisements. One ad
lists Ch. Ringmaster at stud for ten dollars.
The Manitoba Challenge Cup, presented by
Mr. A.C. Cummings of Winnipeg,
represented a competition specifically for the best medium
weight (17 lbs) Manchester Terrier. This beautiful large silver
bowl has the Manitoba
coat of arms on the front and two Manchesters on the sides. It
was competed for three times a year at shows in
Ottawa. How they managed the travelling,
I do not know, but certainly not by RV’s! The wooden black base
of the bowl contains silver crests with the names of winning
dogs, owners and dates. If won three times, by the same owner,
the cup would be theirs. It was last won by Fred in 1902 and I
am proud to have it prominently displayed in my china cabinet.
Willowdale dogs were very successful in both
and the United States
and Fred MacLead bred numerous specialty and Westminster Best of Breed
winners -- I have sterling silver Westminster
breed awards in the form of coasters for 1938, 1941,1943, 1944, and
1949. My grandfather, Mac,
who would eventually take over breeding under the Willowdale prefix, was
primarily involved in breeding toys but showed both. His favourite dog,
Ch. Little Ringmaster, was Best of Opposite Sex at
in 1949. My favourite, of course, was a toy named, Ch. Wee Pennyann, a
multiple BIS winner.
Fred was not only a respected breeder and
exhibitor, but also a judge at numerous shows. He judged at the
Westminster Kennel Club show in 1925 and 1928, as well as the first
National American Kennel Club Toy Manchester Terrier Specialty Show held
in 1938 in Chicago, Illinois Best of Breed at that show was awarded
$20.00, Winners Male and Bitch $14.00, first prize for each class was
$5.00, second, $3.00, and third $2.00, as well as other cash prizes and
trophies. A competing dog was offered for sale for $250.00.
The title of Fred McLean’s obituary in the February
1953 issue of Dogs in Canada
magazine said it all: Manchester King, F.C. McLean Dead. The It
For upwards of 70 years, [Fred C. McLean] was a
familiar figure and regular competitor at the leading dog shows on the
continent. He owned the very cream of the Manchesters and his Ch.
Ringmaster, which can be found in many pedigrees, made a substantial
contribution to the breed, the influence, being felt even today. He was
one of the great authorities in the dog world, an outstanding breeder
and judge and the man who made the Black & Tan what it is today. It
would be impossible to evaluate the contribution Mr. McLean made in the
interest of dogs in general and it is consoling to know that his son,
M.C.(Mac)McLean, who is already well known in the dog world, is carrying
on in his father's stead.
Exactly what fueled and sustained Fred McLean’s
dream is unknown. Was it
the sleek beauty and keen intelligence of the Manchester?
Their superb athleticism and remarkable curiosity?
Or was it their unique love and devotion to family? I can only
speculate on the reasons.
However, as I
sit at my computer in the year 2005, with my three Toy Manchesters lying
by my side, I can feel some of
the same magic that must have inspired my great-grandfather's dream to
produce the very best of this breed.
Perhaps, it is in the genes or maybe it is learned by
association, but I too passionately love the Manchester Terrier, as have
three generations before me. I am very proud of the
accomplishments of both Fred and Mac McLean, but more than that I am
grateful for the legacy they left me in the form of love and passion for
this wonderful breed.