A new documentary short film brings to life the true story about two boys and their pony that many people have forgotten – or never even knew about. Called Pony Boys, the film traces the journey of Tony and Jeff Whittemore, aged 9 and 11, who drove their pony cart, pulled by a Shetland named King, from their home in Needham, Massachusetts (outside Boston) to Montreal, QC, to attend Expo ’67.

Jeff, Tony and King.

It was the summer of that year when the brothers dreamed of visiting the World’s Fair north of the border, but their family couldn’t afford the traditional kind of road trip. Their enterprising mother decided that her sons could drive King the 325 miles to Montreal and a plan was hatched.

The filmmaker, Eric Stange, is now a neighbour of Jeff, but he first heard about the unbelievable trek from a mutual friend. “The next time I ran onto Jeff I asked if it was all true and he said yes. That was about ten 10 years ago,” says Stange. “It took quite a while for me to get around to making the film, but I wanted to do it as soon as I heard the story.”

During the trip in ’67, the boys and King became celebrities and were followed around by the press, having their photos taken and interviews conducted that were spread across dozens of newspapers. They were also greeted by crowds at each town. Strangers opened their doors for them to stay overnight as they made their way north. When the adorable trio finally arrived in Montreal, the boys and King were greeted by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and his horse. Officials also gave the kids the VIP treatment.

As for the amazing pony, King was treated, well, like a king. Before departing for Montreal, Mrs. Whittemore ensured that the pony and her two sons were well-prepared. “Mrs. Whittemore spent several months before the trip helping the boys prepare for all parts of the trip, including caring for King,” explains Stange. “The boys learned how to clean and examine his hooves, daily grooming, feeding and watering, etc.” It’s clear in the film that the Whittemore’s viewed the small pony as a cherished member of the family.

Made it!

While it’s a hands-off parenting style that few would entertain in our current society, there were also harsh criticisms lobbed at the family during the journey. But the boy’s successful trip conquered the hearts of anyone who saw or read about them and King was driven home in style via trailer after completing the trek. He remained with the family until all the kids had grown and moved out.

“When the kids had all left home the boys’ mother found other nearby families with kids who wanted to care for a pony,” says Stange. “Mrs. Whittemore was very involved in his care to the end of his life, and the boys and their siblings would visit King throughout the rest of his life.”

According to the film, King lived another two decades after making his amazing journey. Watch Pony Boys for free here: