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E. J. (Gene) Hurtubise

Gene Hurtubise was a mighty man, 250 pounds of muscle, who was born in Ann Arbor, MI, moved to the Ottawa Valley, then on to Peterborough in 1896. He came to help build the canal and our city’s famous Liftlocks, and settled here after the work was completed.

Gene became Amateur Wrestling Champion of Canada and was undefeated. He wrestled many of the famous professionals of the day, including Hackenschmidt, Yankee Rogers and Frank Gotch. His favourite sport, however, was not wrestling but wrist twisting. This is a competition where two men stood, toe to toe, seize hands and bend until one man is forced to change his stance with his feet. No man could stand up to Gene in all of Canada – except one, a man named Fitzsimmons who operated a cigar store in Peterborough and weighed no more that 120 pounds. It was just one of those idiosyncrasies in life that no one could explain.

But Hurtubise had a super strength and no circus performer ever came to this city without handing Gene the $10 which they offered anyone who could stand up to them for 10 minutes.