Sep 03-06

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2006: September: Sep 03-06
The Big Guy    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from Copper Country Reflections

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 08:49 am:

We've been doing the Pasty Cam for so many years that I couldn't recall if we posted this classic shot before on Shoebox Memories. I ran across it again this morning while browsing through Chuck Voelker's Copper Country Reflections. You may have seen this photo in another place. For many year years it hung by the pharmacy cash register at Calumet Drug on Fifth Street. We would always see it when picking up prescriptions. As you may know, the drugstore was acquired by the Calumet Pamida a while back, so I hadn't seen it in a while.

The drug store's owner Bob Colant moved to New Hampshire last week. Once he told me that had heard the bear eventually went on a rampage and the trainer was killed. Not a very happy ending to the story. I sure would not have stood so close to the beast as the guys near his left paw.

Hope you are having a nice Labor Day weekend. Make it a safe one :o)

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 08:57 am:

Those guys are brave!! They could be lunch!!!

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 09:00 am:

That does not look like a Keweenaw brown bear. Is it actually a stuffed grizzlie? Is that another bear in the background? I can't believe those men would be standing so near to a live, reared-up bear.

Interesting that there are no women in the picture....

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 09:07 am:

It it IS real, the women probably showed a little more common sense. LOL I thought there were only black bears in the Keweenaw! But I guess I could be wrong.

By Ken Scheibach (Kscheibach) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 09:51 am:

Great photo of a different era, for sure. I'd say that they are trained brown bears(grizzly). If you blow up the photo you will see that the standing bear is attached to a chain and is wearing a muzzle. There are no brown bear in Michigan. These people were probably paid to bring the bears in to Calumet for entertainment. Pre-TV and radio days :-)

By Margaret, Amarillo TX (Margaret) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 10:21 am:

delectation: act of receiving pleasure from something (you betcha!)

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 10:31 am:

The fellow with the leash looks to be a head taller than the rest of the crowd and the guys on the right seem more interested in having their faces on camera or watching the cameraman. Lots of stories to imagine, here. Nice pic. I remember a song about a traveling minstrel with a bear, maybe by the group Mustard's Retreat?

By Kevin E. Musser (Copperrange) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 12:29 pm:

An interesting story to add to the above photo. I am sure it is not from the same bear, but shows the hazzards of keeping a bear. This from the Calumet Newspaper.

June 8, 1903: The manager and employees, and especially the bookkeeper, of the Keckonen hardware company, on Fifth Street were greatly put out this morning over the antics of their great store window attraction, the two yound bears that were captured and brought to town last week.
Although completely enclosed in a cage made of wire fencing fastened on gas piping, the bears have shown that when left alone they were onto the combination that secured them, for this morning when the clerk opened the store he found that the bears had been in the office investigating the books, found the accounts all straight and books kept neat and clean but they did not leave them that way. No department or corner of the store was missed by them and all the very handsome signs that the bookkeeper was so careful in making and placing in the cage to attract the attention of the ladies - not to himself, but the refrigerators kept in the establishment - were totally demolished.

By WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 12:31 pm:

Yikes, I wouldn't want to be standing anywhere around that bear. Guess the women were smarter...and realized there is no way you can truly train a wild bear...which is why no women are in this picture, eh ;)

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 12:38 pm:

I would guess stuffed brown bear in front and a muzzled black bear to the rear of promoter. Brown bears are not native to the eastern United States.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 01:05 pm:

Chuck Voelker's photo collection includes a number of additional photos of what appear to be the same bears patrolling the street on all fours, still leashed & muzzled. Cheers for "da Bears"?

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 03:35 pm:

Geez! I meant to say 'doesn't look like a Keweenaw black bear.' Still a scary picture!

I saw the chain, and do not wonder that this poor creature went nuts later.

By k j (Kathiscc) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 09:11 pm:

Poor bears.

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Sunday, September 3, 2006 - 11:32 pm:

Looks fake to me. Looks like a tall man in a costume. An average black bear doesn't stand much taller then an adult man if that. An average Grizzly not even that much taller. A Grizzly that tall would be huge otherwise, ie, much broader shoulders. The fur on the stomach doesn't look real bear like at all. I just don't think a Grizzly could be that docile in a crowd. I don't think even an extraordinarly strong man could restrain or control a chained Grizzly anyhow.
Just my 2 cents worth! Probably just a show thing. They had lots of weird stuff like that in Carnivals, Circuses those days. Entertainment!

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Monday, September 4, 2006 - 02:14 am:

Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons):
"Looks fake to me."

Yep, sure does. Go to Chuck Voelker's Copper Country Reflections: April, 2006 Updates, scroll down & check out the "fake bears" strolling down the street, rollin' in the street, climbing the power pole, etc.

Fake bears, yup. Darn good 'uns!

By David Soumis (Davesou) on Monday, September 4, 2006 - 12:56 pm:

they look darn real to me :) LOL

BUT WAIT!!!....they must be fake...I've never seen a brown bear in the Copper Country.

Has there ever been a brown bear up there?

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Monday, September 4, 2006 - 09:19 pm:

Frnash: Just checked out the CC Reflections URL. Now those other pics in the "CC Reflections" page do look real! The one above sure doesn't! The defining telltale Grizzly hump can be seen in the other pics. I know Black Bears are more usually and easier trained mainly because the average one isn't that big and their dispositions not as ugly as the Grizzly (usually!) Always heard Grizzlys were a handful tho and when they go ballistic, almost unstoppable! They didn't have tranquilizers/darts etc. those days. I wonder what they used to tame them, calm them, make them behave, & obey?
Grizzlys are not native to MI or the midwest. There is an uncommon Brown color morph of the Black Bear but not often seen.

After the tragic death of Steve Irwin, it goes to show once again one can never be totally sure of wild creatures no matter how trained and skilled one is.

By Catherine--Holland MI (Catherine) on Monday, September 4, 2006 - 09:40 pm: has a link to black bear facts of Michigan. I
don't think there have ever been brown bears native here.

By Andrew Sewell (Asewell) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 08:54 am:

Real bears. Grizzlies, Probably only a year or two old. Likely story is that one of the trainers probably shot the mother and acquired her cubs for training. The CC reflections link shows all the same bears. Compare especially the above photo with the photo of the bears walking, and you'll note the trainer in the first photo is leading the second bear. You'll also note how small the bears are in the second photo - a clear indication of young age. It's also likely that the bears weren't recieving anything near a proper diet and were malnourished - another reason they don't look quite right.

By Liz B (Lizidaho) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 11:02 am:

When I was going through some of my Mom's stuff last Sunday, I found a picture of a bear sitting at the Counter in the Lake Side (on M-26) to Copper Harbor. I have no idea if it was real. But it looked it. I don't have the equipement to scan and send it.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 05:44 pm:


Isn't it remarkable what you find when going through the family

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 09:04 pm:

I agree with Russell E. and Andrew S. Real bears. I found another picture on the web from England taken in 1895 that shows what I think is the same trainer with a bear on the street. He carries his bugle the same way as in Chuck Voelker's photos. It is part of:
The Francis Frith Collection
Dancing Bear 1895 Ref: L130108
Bear in London
with the following caption:
"Bears had long been abused by Londoners. In the 17th century there was a popular bear garden at Bankside.This poor creature is urged to dance to bugle tunes played by his owner, who is probably an old soldier. Though tightly muzzled, this giant seven- foot bear must have terrified passers-by, as he complained at his miserable lot. "
There are a few photos on the web of Rom or Gypsies with their instruments and bears in Bulgaria, also.

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 04:38 am:

Through the years the Pasty Cam has been a simple daily journal of life in the U.P., which has not been without parallel in the rest of the world. On the morning of September 3rd we posted this bear picture, with the story about the trainer being killed. Within the next 24 hours one of the most notable contemporary animal handlers, Steve Irwin was killed by an animal he was filming off the Australian coast.

As I returned this morning to catch up on all of your comments, I saw something on the bear which I had not noticed before: The muzzle.

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 04:21 pm:

Andrew S. probably says it best. I didn't want to say it on my previous posts but malnourishment, unclean conditions, even beatings and cruelty were common to performing animals particularly in the traveling shows, Circuses, Carnivals in those days. That was before or during the times animal/wildlife protection groups came about thanks to Teddy Roosevelt and other dignitaries taking public and legal stands for the protection and preservation of wildlife of most all species! Teddy Roosevelt established the first National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks systems for these very reasons. Prior to that birds of many species were slaughtered wholesale by the thousands just to get the beautiful feathers for ladies millenery (hats) or dresses! Some of these species still have not recovered to this day! We all know about the Passenger Pigeon and the Bison --and even the Grizzlys were (are?) in danger! Luckily Black Bears are doing OK across the continent!
Another recent incident besides Steve Irwin comes to mind--his name escapes me, the famous performer who was severly mauled by his beloved White Tiger!

Nevertheless, a very interesting post here. The photos really not too bad at all considering their age!

Powered by:  
Join Today!
Each day the Pasty Cam has 2 areas to post messages: 
  • Cam Notes - comments related to today's picture and discussion
  • What'sUP - other topics, conversation and announcements
  • *** Please use the appropriate forum ***
    Here's a list of messages posted in the past 24 hours
    See our guest photo gallery for more great views from the U.P.

    Add a Message

    A user/password combination is now required to post messages to Cam Notes. Registration is free. Click here to register or maintain your I.D.

    Home | Pasty Cam | Contest | Order Now | Bridge Cam | Past-E-Mail | GP Hall of Fame | Making Pasties | Questions