Rob Rich knows beavers well — he’s been observing and writing about them for several years in Whatcom County, Washington — so his enthusiastic response to Once They Were Hats is all the more welcome. In a recent review, published in the High Country News, Rich writes: “Backhouse is a perceptive observer and listener, ever alert to the subtle ways the beaver’s story entwines with individual people. She has the knack of a documentary filmmaker.” He also notes that the book offers “a wide assortment of reasons to value the beaver’s utterly unique lifestyle, while helping us understand how it has shaped — and still shapes — our own.”
Historian Charlotte Gray reviews Once They Were Hats in the June-July 2016 issue of Canada’s History magazine. Like many Canadians, she has beavers as neighbours at her cottage, but she’s looking at them differently now: “thanks to Backhouse’s thoughtful, fascinating exploration of beaver know-how, I will not complain about the neighbours next summer” she writes. “Instead, I’ll have my binoculars trained on them.” Maybe she’ll spot the beaver dude who graces the cover of this issue and looks like he’d be right at home in cottage country.