William Leonard Hunt

During the summer of 1859, a 22 year old from Port Hope, Ontario watched the great Blondin in admiration. William Leonard Hunt, better known by his stage name Signor Guillermo Antonio Farini, would go onto match Blondin’s feats to the amazement of those who followed him. Farini imitated Blondin’s stunts with ease and even added some of his own.

He wowed audiences during one particular stunt when halfway across the gorge he lowered a rope and climbed down to the Maid of the Mist below and shared a glass of wine with the passengers. Farini had great difficulty climbing back up the rope as it swayed wildly in the wind, and when he finally did make it back up to the top it took all his might to right himself up on the rope and walk the final stretch across the opposite shore. The feat had proved to be extremely dangerous and Farini would never attempt it again.

He would emulate the great Blondin in many of his subsequent crossings; he stood on his head, hung by his toes, and walked across the gorge with a sack on. Farini would even carry a wash basin across and lowered it down into the river and washed out several pocket handkerchiefs.

In his later years Farini took to painting, and inventing things. He invented a watering can specifically for watering begonias, and a sliding theatrical chair among other things. Even in his mid 80’s he still managed to walk the tight rope which he did just for fun. Farini died in his home town of Port Hope Ontario on January 1929 at the age of 91.