An Unlikely Pair: The Story of Molly the Bear and McGee the Pig

By Trish Odorico, Whistler Museum.

Have you ever found yourself in an unlikely relationship? Perhaps a friendship with someone you thought you’d despise, a romance working against all odds, or an interspecies partnership with your pet that you never expected to grow so strong? Most of us at some point in our lives have been pleasantly surprised by an unexpected yet beautiful relationship. Conceivably, the most unlikely duo in Whistler’s history is Molly the bear and McGee the pig.

 

The unlikely pair enjoy some dinner. Courtesy Whistler Museum.
The unlikely pair enjoy some dinner. Courtesy Whistler Museum.

 

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So how did a pig and a bear come to be such great friends? Well, McGee the piglet was bought by a young girl named Betsy (DeBeck) Henderson at a farmer’s market in New Westminster, while Molly the bear cub was adopted by Betsy’s father. Molly was originally from Bella Coola – where Mr. Henderson worked – and went by the name Crisco (because she loved to break into cookhouses and eat shortening).

Betsy spent two summers at Green Lake in 1936 and 1937. During this time, Betsy’s brothers worked in the logging industry in the same region. Determined to keep the family close, Betsy’s mother insisted the family rent a cabin on the lake. They did just that, and with them came the whole family – including a cow, McGee the pig, Molly the bear and a Springer spaniel named Freckles.

 

Molly and McGee, all loved up. In the background you can just make out a jealous Freckles. Courtesy Whistler Museum.
Molly and McGee, all loved up. In the background you can just make out a jealous Freckles. Courtesy Whistler Museum.

 

So began the unwavering bond between pig and bear. Neither of them took to the other animals the same way they did to each other. The two would play, eat and nap together. It’s safe to say that they rarely left each other’s sides. Even when the family would play a game of baseball, McGee would watch Molly as she’d try to grab the players and stop them from running from base to base.

After spending two summers at Green Lake, the DeBeck family continued their journey and moved to Victoria. What we know of Molly and McGee ends here. However, perhaps this strange and dynamic duo will inspire all of us to be especially appreciative of those unexplainable relationships in our lives, approaching them with nothing but warmth and love.

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