William Leonard Hunt

William Leonard Hunt

Birth
Lockport, Niagara County, New York, USA
Death 17 Jan 1929 (aged 90)
Port Hope, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada
Burial Port Hope, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada
Memorial ID 20874725 · View Source
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Entertainer. Known as "The Great Farini", he was considered one of the greatest figures in Canadian show business. Born to Thomas and Hannah Hunt in Lockport, New York, the young Hunt later moved with his family to Hope Township, Canada, before settling in Bowmanville, Ontario. A few years after moving to Bowmanville, a circus came to the area, and Hunt decided that he just had to see it. The young boy was so impressed that it was from that day on that he decided he would surely enter the world of show business. He soon began to develop his muscles and practiced anything from acrobatics to carrying heavy objects on his back. On October 1, 1859, Hunt, who was now twenty-one years of age, and taking the stage name of Signor Farini (later The Great Farini), undertook his first professional high wire performance, in Port Hope, Ontario. The act was such a success that he was given a huge party in the town's city hall. It was here that he would also eventually live for the rest of his life. On August 15, 1860, Hunt made his debut performance on the high wire over Niagara Falls. The act went perfect and was continued with several other performances by him through the summer of that year. Hunt continued his high wire acts over the next several years, and even performed for the Prince of Wales on one occasion. He also added new feats to his act including walking across the wire with a sack over his entire body, carrying a man on his back, doing summersaults, and hanging by his feet, among several others. In 1866, Hunt toured the United States, and went to London, England, where he soon became a legend, and one of the celebrated acrobats in Europe. By 1869, Hunt who was now in his thirties, was so concerned about his safety that he decided to retire his acrobatic act and work on the sidelines as a trainer and manager for other performers. Also working around this time as an inventor, he rigged a cannon capable of firing people high up into the air. He also went onto work with the famous showman P.T. Barnum. In 1885, Hunt again went on tour, this time to Africa. One of his main feats while in Africa was becoming the first white man to cross the Kalahari Desert, and to live to tell about it. He also once claimed to have found the Lost City of Kalahari, but these claims have never been authenticated. Following his stay in Africa, he returned to Port Hope, where he continued to perform, train and manage, and invent, until his death from influenza, at the age of 91. He was the subject of the biography, "The Great Farini: The High-Wire Life of William Hunt", by author Shane Peacock.


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 10 Aug 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 20874725
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Leonard Hunt (10 Jun 1838–17 Jan 1929), Find a Grave Memorial no. 20874725, citing Saint John's Anglican Church Cemetery, Port Hope, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada ; Maintained by Find A Grave .