Rethinking the Beaver

Has there ever been a more misunderstood national symbol? Has there ever been a more important time for the beaver to flourish? Canadian Geographic, Dec. 2012.


(© Frances Backhouse)


“At the turn of the 19th century, many people thought Canada’s national animal was a goner — a doomed species that had passed the point of no return. One notable pessimist was Horace T. Martin, a Canadian Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and author of Castorologia or the History and Traditions of the Canadian Beaver. ‘As to the ultimate destruction of the beaver, no possible question can exist,’ declared Martin in 1892, noting that ‘the evidences of approaching extermination can be seen only too plainly in the miles of territory exhibiting the decayed stump, the broken dam and deserted lodge.’ One hundred and twenty years later, on a warm June evening, I sit on the shore of a massive beaver pond in Algonquin Provincial Park, watching water bugs etch ephemeral lines on the glassy surface.”

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