I like beavers.
The toothy dam builder is a familiar prairie icon that is industrious, agile and resilient. It’s somehow comforting to see a beaver’s nose gliding along the water then effortlessly disappear in the fading light.
At first blush it makes sense that the beaver is a Canadian icon. Just look at all those reliable qualities. But as I observed the beaver more closely, it was hard to ignore the lack of excitement and beauty. I know looks aren’t everything but they might help in an icon pageant.
A number of years ago, I heard the music group, Arrogant Worms, sing, “We are the Beaver.” They humourously compared our esteemed Canadian icon with the US eagle, Russian bear and Indian tiger. Yikes! That sealed the deal for me.
But there was hope. Last year there was some public discussion about whether the beaver could be replaced by the polar bear. Now there is an animal worthy of national icon status. (If only I owned a polar bear photo.)
I was astounded that Canadians everywhere didn’t rise with one voice to make it unanimous. But that wily beaver had lobbyists and connections across the country defending its honour, including people I knew who were normally quite level-headed about national issues. Alas, the debate subsided too quickly and we were left with a creature that cuts down trees in the middle of a global warming discussion.
The beaver has survived the fur trade, trapping by annoyed farmers with flooded land and an assault on its icon status. That’s worthy of respect even if it falls short on passion.
As I watch another beaver swimming quietly in the fading light, I can’t help thinking that maybe I’d like it a lot more if it hadn’t over reached on its status. I suspect that is also a typical Canadian sentiment.
Still I do like the beaver.
I’d be amused to hear your views on the beaver – just fill in the easy form below.