In Timmins There is One Degree of Separation: Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme, Author Suzanne F. Charron, Artist Charles Pachter and Me!

My daughter Sophie said I should layoff all the heavy political stuff…people don’t want to hear that crap. She insisted that people want to read about nothing…the ordinary nothingness about unimportant things that may be humorous or insightful. But as my son Giancarlo said when he was but five or six years old – “Dad even when you are doing nothing….you are doing something.”

Even Nothing is Something

So here I am once again caught in life’s complexity between my daughter’s wish for me to write about nothingness a la Jerry Seinfeld; and my son’s intuitive grasping at a very young age that even nothing is something.

In my quest for Northern Nothingness I am today posting a story… a sidebar…if you will to the story of “Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme” as told by Suzanne F. Charron at Timmins Voices in Christopher’s Coffee House on the evening of February 12, 2014 (which also happened to be my 59th birthday).

I learned this interesting fact listening to Suzanne Charron’s story. To most people this fact is probably a nothing piece of information…which for me and this blog is a good thing! I was amazed to learn from Suzanne’s talk about her book “Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme: Tamer Untamed” (Scrivener Press- ) that well-known Canadian painter Charles Pachter was inspired by Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme.

Suzanne Charron at Timmins Voices, Feb.12, 2014

I was literally floored when Suzanne started talking about renowned Canadian artist Charles Pachter being influenced by Joe LaFlamme. Pachter’s art includes the insertion of moose onto his canvas. His studio is affectionately called the Moose Factory. For more info on Charles Pachter

… here is the coincidence. Pachter is the cousin of my high school chum Ted Sanders at whose place I stay when visiting Toronto these days while I live in Timmins and engage in searching for Northern Nothingness.

One Degree of Separation

This fact solidified my belief that in Timmins there exists only one degree of separation. In large urban centres like Toronto or New York City, the ratio increases to six degrees of separation.

Early last year I actually spoke with Charles over the phone. I still haven’t met Charles, but intend to visit his studio/gallery when I return to Toronto shortly. The internationally renowned artist, Charles Pachter, painted the infamous Montreal Canadien/Toronto Maple Leaf players at the Toronto College Subway Station; you know the one where Leaf owner Harold Ballard refused the use of the words “Toronto Maple Leafs” on the maple leaf logo. Pachter also painted the famous painting of Queen Elizabeth riding a moose.

I listened to Suzanne Charron tell the Christopher Coffee House crowd that young Charles Pachter met Joe LaFlamme when he was 4 years old while Joe was at the Sportsmens Show in Toronto back in 1947. She even included a photo of young Charles and the Wolf Man and his moose in her book. See below for the photo.

That meeting with LaFlamme and his moose impacted Charles Pachter so much that moose have been an inspiration in his art work all his life. By the way those Ontario road signs showing Moose Crossing were also designed by Pachter. I am all to familiar with those signs driving the roads north of the watershed divide. They can be life savers reminding drivers to be alert and watch for moose darting across the highway usually during twilight or dawn.

But this one degree of separation happens all the time in Timmins…if the person you are talking to doesn’t know or isn’t connected to the other person you speak of – the next person will know them.

Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme an Excellent Example of Northern Literature

The goal of Timmins Voices and Northern Voices Journal is to develop and promote Northern literature. Well, you can’t find a better example of contemporary Northern writing than Suzanne Charron’s “Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme:Tamer Untamed.”

I bought the book and so should you…it is an amazing story. A true story that is stranger than fiction. And that reminds me that in the pre-television era the public had an intense desire to hear about the bizarre, the outlandish, the unusual, the larger-than-life and Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme certainly fits that description.
I’m sure young Charles Pachter felt the same way when he met the Wolf Man – that he was in the presence of a larger than life character.

In that era you had the likes of Robert Ripley galloping the globe looking for exotic stories to amaze the public through the popular Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Suzanne Charron illustrates in her book that ..Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme definitely fits in that Believe It or Not mold.

Psst…Listen to This!

By the way and don’t tell this to my daughter Sophie…but I still do believe we do need to be politically aware and involved…I do agree with political philosopher Edmund Burke who wrote “Evil grows in the world when good people stand by and do nothing.” For my politically charged blogs please visit

Until next time

And like my son Giancarlo says…”Even Nothing is Something”….Got that Jerry Seinfeld?
Wishing you Sweet Nothings…on this February 14 Valentines Day 2014

For Further Information

For further information on Suzanne Charron and her Timmins appearances see the following sites:

For Timmins Voices please click this link

For Nabi-Alexandre’s interview with Suzanne Charron and myself please click on this link

For Kyle Gennings promo of his coverage of Suzanne Charron at Timmins Voices

I will post the link to CTV’s full report Suzanne Charron’s Timmins Voices appearance as soon as it is available

Two Other Timmins Events For Suzanne Charron

She also told her story of Joe LaFlamme at the Book Bin – Timmins’ best book store– the morning of Feb.13th and the Timmins Public Library on the afternoon of Feb.13th (

Charles Pachter_4 yr old with Joe LaFlamme





My Quest For Northern Nothingness…My Blog about Nothing

I’m trying to write about nothing, as my daughter Sophie insists this is what people want to read about and not my long, boring political diatribes. So here is my first Blog About Northern Nothingness – a sort of chilled-out, frozen-stiff version of Jerry Seinfeld. But Timmins is not New York City, where Seinfeld’s urban nothingness takes place. In fact, Timmins at 40,000 people, is about 300 times smaller than New York City’s population of nearly 12 million people.

However, I hazard to guess that the per capita cast of wacky characters may be about equal. There certainly are plenty of Cosmo Kramer goofball, free spirits up here. And I guess, I don’t have to look any further than myself to find the local George Costanza as I often remind people of George.

Elaine? Well there are a few up here who remind me of Elaine Benes…but mostly the women in Timmins are a bunch of zany, crazy, wild, northern, savage women – who have a very unconventional dimension to their persona…by the way there is even a Kathy Griffin type up here…remember Kathy Griffin? – the ditzy red-head who based her entire one-woman theatrical off-Broadway play on whatever Jerry happened to say as she hounded him and then incorporated ridiculing Jerry’s progressively angry responses into her next performances.

Well our little Kathy Griffin moment up here north of the watershed divide occurred when I naively accepted an invitation to go back to this savage Timmins female’s house. The house was nicely furnished in early frontier decor…you know moose head, bearskin rug….deer antler…lot of rough hewed wood furniture…quilts every where…it smelled like cedar.

Anyway, when Ms.X sat down next to me on the sofa, I started to massage her neck…the back of her neck to be exact. Much to my shock…she jumps about fifty feet away from me to the other side of the room and tells me she does not like that and she would prefer I stopped. Which I did.

Now comes the Kathy Griffin part….at my next Timmins Voices, a literary reading series I founded up here and held at Christopher’s Coffee House, Ms.X gets up to the open mic and begins her rant…”There are 4 people in Timmins who are trying to seduce me!” she shrieked.

Yikes…I cringed and slid down in my seat…this could prove to be embarrassing if she names names…I start crafting my defense..which really wasn’t that it is a long stretch to go from a brief neck massage to seduction, although I do admit the two are on the same continuum, and the thought did cross my mind. Damn thought-crime!

I searched the room to see if anyone was casting glances at me. Ms.X continued…”Why do men in Timmins always want to seduce me?!” The audience was laughing now with anticipation of names being belched out from this fire- breathing, relentless-ranter’s mouth; and a person whom I had permitted to rant at my own reading series open mic!
How about being hoisted by my own petard!

But Ms.X pulled back..holy coitus interuptus! Just as I thought I was going to be screwed…Ms.X didn’t spit out my name, or the names of any of her four, filthy seducers!

I went home that night and sent Ms.X an email….”Dear Ms.X: I hereby resign from ever wanting to seduce you. Next time you give your rant please say there are only three men trying to seduce you.”

I heard nothing from Ms.X for a week; and then I received an email from her….”Frank, just to let you know there are now no men trying to seduce me” she said,”the other three resigned as well….”.

I guess the other three must have been at Christopher’s Coffee House that night at Timmins Voices and also dreaded being outed as disgusting, Timmins seducers and they too also resigned.

Now Ms. X can roam the streets of Timmins, free of those constant nagging, attempts by depraved men trying to seduce her.

I hope this story is sufficiently nothing enough to quench people’s desire to read stories about nothing as my literary adviser, my daughter Sophie, insists…so instead of my usual, long winded political diatribes against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada Post, LOL, I will continue writing about Northern Nothingness. I actually enjoyed writing about nothing.

Stay tuned for my next Blog About Northern Nothing. I think I am getting the hang about writing about nothing…well not exactly nothing, because as my son Giancarlo,the philosopher, realized when he was only five or six and I am paraphrasing his quote…”Dad, even when you are writing about nothing, you still are still writing about something.” I wonder if Seinfeld ever figured that out?