Guest Post by Paul Jenkins, Coordinator of the Victoria History Project

Last month, we told the story of Muggins, the famous Canadian Red Cross fundraising dog from Victoria, British Columbia.

During the First World War, he raised more than $21,000 (about $400,000 now), just trotting around town alone with two donation boxes on his back. He often visited ferries and freightliners arriving in Victoria, and grew so famous that overseas visitors would ask for the little white Spitz dog. When Muggins eventually died in 1920, his body was preserved by a professional taxidermist, and that is where the story seemed to end last time. But now we’ve uncovered more clues!

We met Sylvia Van Kirk, a retired history professor from the University of Toronto and current president of the Victoria Historical Society. Van Kirk specializes in the colonial history of Victoria and participates in historical re-enactments. Her latest project is Muggins. She has a toy dog that looks just like him and she takes it to historical events around the city, explaining his role in the war. She is also writing his history.
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Sylvia has joined us on the case to find the real Muggins, if he still exists. So far, she has discovered Muggins’ body was on display during the Second World War in the Red Cross “Superfluities Store," a unique shop in Victoria that accepted donated items superfluous to an owner’s needs.

It turns out that Mary Riter Hamilton, a war artist, also painted a portrait of Muggins, but we don’t know where the painting is. So, this is far from a cold case and more tips will surely follow!

If you have any clues about Muggins or the portrait, please contact Paul Jenkins at paul.jenkins@redcross.ca.