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The Kawartha Crocodile: The Story of Kinmount’s Dr. E. White and his Unusual Pet

September 23, 2022

By Carol Pearson. Edited by Guy Scott.

The doctor’s daughter, who was a trained nurse, spent her winters in Florida with a wealthy patient. One winter, as a joke, she sent a baby crocodile to her animal-loving father! These are funny little creatures and make unusual pets. They respond to human affection, train very easily and are as active and inquisitive as monkeys. During the first year, the croc lived mostly in the sunroom and went out into the garden when the doctor could be with him. By the second spring he was nearly three feet long, and still growing; and the doctor made him a swimming pool in the backyard and a rock garden with stones big enough to hold him as he lay sunning himself. He went where he liked. One of his favourite spots was the porch at the side of the house, where he would bend himself along the contour of the railing and the wall and sleep in the sun. From this location he would grin startlingly at patients who came up to the doctor’s door. The doctor was living in Fenelon Falls at the time, for the main street of Kinmount had been completely burnt down on one side and the doctor’s home had been destroyed [during the 1917 fire]. The crocodile became known far and wide.

The doctor’s pet grew and grew, fed as he was by an expert with the various minerals and health-giving aids that crocodiles require. The dog was the only playmate he had. Crocodiles have real hands, complete with fingers, and though he grew lazy as he grew heavy, he would often reach out a fat arm and take a fistful of Bubbie the dog’s hair with his fist. Bubbie would be powerless to move! He was soon too big for a pool, and too big for the peace of mind of the townspeople.

Still he grew! Sadly, Dr. White offered him to the Riverdale Zoo (Toronto), who were glad to have him. The doctor greatly missed him, and even Bubbie the dog was at a loss for weeks. Now the crocodile lorded it over the other crawlers at the zoo! He was by far the largest there, and because of the close contact with humans for so long, he was very clever with his dealings with his fellow reptiles. He remembered his name, and would slowly raise about a yard of snout and blink sleepy eyes when he heard it. He would raise up on his back legs and lovingly stare at any spaniel dog that got near the pit. Even crocodiles, it seems love cocker spaniels.

About the author: Carol Pearson attended Dr. White’s office in both Kinmount and Fenelon Falls. Her family used their farmhouse on the Dutch Line as a summer cottage.

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