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.