Cook County Historical Society
Traveling the Old North Shore

Traveling the Old North Shore – Tame Tom Parent & Wild Bill Pemble

Tom Parent (left canoe, stern) and Bill Pemble (right canoe, stern) taking some city men out on a fishing trip. Photo credit: Allard family personal collection.


Tame Tom and Wild Bill’s Silver Island Lake trapping headquarters, 1916. Photo credit: Superior National Forest archives.

Silver Island Lake lies inland from the Tofte/Schroeder area along Lake Superior’s North Shore. It’s a remote part of northeast Minnesota even today, but in the early 1900s it was the base of trapping operations for two men known as Tame Tom and Wild Bill. Today, there are two lakes in Lake County that are named Parent Lake along with the Parent River, all thought to be inspired by Tame Tom Parent. Descendants of Tom Parent who still live in the area include his great-granddaughter Alta McQuatters of Lutsen, and his great-grandsons Stephen and Kevin Johnson of Schroeder. WTIP producer Martha Marnocha learns more in this feature.

Thanks to Ruth Allard, along with Lee Johnson of the Superior National Forest, and Tom McCann for your contributions to this segment. Photos courtesy of Ruth Allard and the Cook County Historical Society.