There I was, two days travel into the United States and I stumbled on something eerily Canadian. In fact, it was nothing short of Canada’s iconic symbol!
Still something seemed wrong with this picture. This Canadian beaver was looking right at home in this very American neighbourhood. Except of course that the water, mud and most everything else that beavers like was also exactly the same as Canada.
Then it hit me – this was an American beaver. Of course, just because a country claims an icon doesn’t mean they have a corner on that animal. Still on this Canada Day weekend, it got me thinking about the symbol again and how we could have picked so badly.
Since the United States beat us to country status they probably got first choice of animals. The eagle was a great choice and it definitely stirs my enthusiasm … and I’m not even an American!
Still by the time Canada got around to picking, there must have been some impressive animals left. I can imagine some fusty committee room in Ottawa where bureaucrats were meeting to make this decision. “On the one hand we have the greasy-looking beaver that sneaks around at night cutting down trees and on the other hand we have the majestic polar bear. Let’s go with the beaver.”
Believe it or not, last year a Canadian senator even raised the idea of changing our icon from the beaver to the polar bear. I was shocked that people didn’t rise up as one and say, “Yes, great idea!” In fact there was genuine opposition to the change which I suspect was mostly rooted in change of any kind.
So our icon remains an industrious, agile and resilient dam builder that keeps cutting down trees amid concerns about global warming. Don’t get me wrong, I like the beaver. It’s somehow comforting to see a beaver’s nose gliding along a prairie slough then slapping its tail before effortlessly disappearing in the fading light.
Still I think an icon should be inspirational. I don’t really feel much looking at this toothy rodent. Perhaps it’s just too familiar.
There is an obvious moral to this story. Pick your icons carefully since they seem to hang around a long time!