Our Friend the Beaver

My friend Matt got me a copy of the book “How to Be a Cana­di­an”, and I’ve got­ten through about a third of it already: It’s a scream. One of my favorite parts so far is:

Offi­cial Role Model
The Rus­sians have a bear, the Brits a lion, and the Amer­i­cans a mighty eagle. In Cana­da. the nation­al ani­mal is a beaver. Renowned for its hard work, even tem­per, indus­tri­ous nature and … oh, who are we kid­ding? The beaver is a forty-pound water rat whose most hero­ic trait is that he thinks to slap his tail and warn his bud­dies before he runs away. And cripes, it’s not like Cana­di­ans were short on choic­es. The coun­try is filled with nobler, more awe-inspring ani­mals. The tim­ber wolf. The griz­zly bear. The moun­tain lion. The wood­land bison. Hell, even a cari­bou or a muskox would have been bet­ter than a buck-toothed, webbed-toed, wad­dle-hap­py rodent. But nooooo, when Canada’s nation­al ani­mal was final­ly made offi­cial in 1975, it was the beaver that was chosen.

I remem­ber that when we were look­ing for some land to buy in Ver­mont, the Real Estate agent showed us one dra­mat­ic home site with a pond below it, and what looked like a swamp fur­ther down from that. The swamp was the result of a beaver dam, the agent told us. If we want­ed to get rid of it, we could end up in a bat­tle with the beavers, until we had them relo­cat­ed (or, I assume, we relo­cat­ed and left the next bat­tle to some oth­er poor humans). Need­less to say, we did­n’t buy that plot of land. Even if we had, Plan B (mov­ing to Cana­da) made sure that Mr. Beaver and his fel­low fur­ry civ­il engi­neers would­n’t have us to dam up any­way. So it’s a moat point. Ouch. Sorry.

4 Replies to “Our Friend the Beaver”

  1. Shocked. I am shocked.

    The beaver is a noble animal.

    Beavers are real­ly cool. They got to be the nation­al ani­mal because that’s what brought the Euro­peans to our frigid shores.

    Beaver pelts are pret­ty cool too; they’ve got guard hair and then they’ve got beaver wool.

  2. I did­n’t say any­thing bad about the beavers, the guys who wrote the book did. As for mak­ing them the nation­al sym­bol because the ear­ly trap­pers came for their pelts, well, that’s also a lit­tle odd. None of the oth­ers (Lion, Eagle, Bear) are known for being a prod­uct. It’s worth not­ing that Ben­jamin Franklin was not in favor of the Eagle being the nation­al ani­mal for the US. He want­ed the Turkey.

    Can you imag­ine the mil­lions of peo­ple sit­ting down for Thanks­giv­ing or Christ­mas din­ner, all get­ting ready to par­take in a feast fea­tur­ing the nation­al sym­bol? Good thing that nev­er happened.

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