Beautiful Joe is an autobiographical book told in the narrative of Joe himself, an Airedale, bull terrier, fox terrier mixt from Meaford, Ontario. The novel, written by Margaret Saunders in 1893, is a fictionalized account of the dog’s survival after being cruelly abused and near death when rescued by Walter Moore, of Meaford. Joe was given the name “Beautiful Joe” to
spite his physical appearance and in appreciation for his sense of spirit, loyalty and sense of humour.
He was often called a mutt, mongrel or cur having suffered physical and emotional cruelty at the hands of his original owner. His ears and tail were butchered and he had been starved and abused to the point of nearly dying. Saunders novel contributed to the worldwide awareness of animal cruelty, selling over 7 million copies.
In 1892, Margaret Marshall Saunders first learned about Beautiful Joe when she visited her brother and his wife, Louise Moore in Meaford. When she won a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society, she relocated the story to a small town in Maine and changed the family’s name from Moore to Morris. In 1963, the official Beautiful Joe Park was named in Meaford, Ontario next to the Moore house where Beautiful Joe was rehabilitated by Louise Moore. A Beautiful Joe Heritage Society was formed in 1994 to preserve Joe’s legacy and ultimately establish the Moore residence as a museum. Next time you are touring Southern Ontario head towards Meaford on Georgian Bay, the home of CanEVA PET head office and Beautiful Joe Park. Send us pictures of you and your dog in Beautiful Joe Park beside the sign or the statue.