The History of the Black Squirrel

Most Americans and many Canadians – not to mention international visitors – have never seen a black squirrel, and many refuse to believe they exist until they see them for themselves. Unlike the legend of the unicorn, black squirrels are lucky and they do exist!

For many people, the excitement they experience when spotting a black squirrel for the first time is like finding black gold. Japanese tourists flock to Nathan Philips Square in Toronto Ontario Canada to photograph all the black squirrels.

But, by far, the friendliest bunch of black squirrels can be found in Victoria Park in London, Ontario Canada. The squirrels there have even inspired the “Black Squirrels of London” song, and they also inspired the Lucky Black Squirrel Pin. These pins have been shipped all over Canada, United States, the UK, Japan, Europe, Australia, etc.

Lucky Black Squirrels: The British Columbia-Washington DC-Ontario Connection

People in British Columbia’s lower mainland are and even south into Washington State see black squirrels and are amazed to discover the history behind their existence: Black squirrels are not native inhabitants here.
Black squirrels represent 1 out of every 10,000 squirrels found in North America. By North American standards this makes them rare. Being rare, some people will associate this with luck, which is why we refer to them as the “Lucky Black Squirrels.”
The lucky black squirrel’s history in North America can be traced way back to some Ontario Canada black squirrels. And from there, descendants of these Ontario black squirrels have made their way across country, across nations, and even overseas.
Below is a timeline of facts of the unusual history behind the black squirrels in North America:

  • Black squirrels found in the British Columbia lower mainland area, which were released at Stanley Park in Vancouver, are descended from 12 New York City black squirrels.
    These 12 squirrels were exported from NYC, sometime between 1910 and 1913, by then mayor William Jay Gaynor.
  • The NYC black squirrels first arrived there after migrating north from the National Zoo in Washington DC. And the Washington DC black squirrels arrived as a gift for President Teddy Roosevelt in two different shipments, one in 1902 and the other in 1906, for a total of 18 squirrels. These black squirrels were exported from Rondeau Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario, located on the north shore of Lake Erie – just one hour’s drive southwest from London Ontario Canada.


  • In 1909 black squirrels showed up in the UK for the first time. Recent DNA tests have traced their ancestry back to Washington DC squirrels.
The Black Squirrels Of London, Ontario CANADA
  • Ten black squirrels were exported from London, Ontario Canada to Kent State University in 1961.A second trip for more black squirrels was made the same year. Today they own the campus and the squirrels have been spotted in places such as: Warren, Cleveland, Barberton, Akron, and Canton.
  • In Kent Ohio, they have gone totally nuts over black squirrels. For example:
  • Black Squirrel Music
  • Black Squirrel Books
  • Black Squirrel Woodworking
  • Black Squirrel Gallery… and the list goes on and on.
  • Black squirrels have since been spotted in some Michigan locations as well. Prior to the Ohio introduction, no black squirrels were seen in Ohio or Michigan.
  • In 2001 black squirrels were spotted along the river in Drumheller Alberta where previously there were none. Rumor has it that someone brought them back from the BC lower mainland. Today some black squirrels have even been spotted in Calgary.
  • Black squirrels are not found in northern Ontario or in eastern Canada. From our research, we’ve found no record of black squirrels in Manitoba or Saskatchewan.
  • Other pockets of black squirrel populations can be found now in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, and California with most traced back to these original introductions.