A canuck justifies the beaver as a Canadian national symbol



The beaver is one of the national symbols of Canada, and I like it that way, dam it (Yes! A pun right out of the gate).

Majestic. Noble. Diligent. These are just a few of the adjectives that should come to mind when you happen upon a colony of beavers on your early-morning run, with the sick Beastie Boys track emanating from your Sony Walkman the only barrier separating you from the joyful gnawing of timber by these furry gifts of magnificence.

I just wish more people would think of the above adjectives initially, because buck-toothed and beaver-y are the adjectives that immediately come to mind for most people.

Honestly, the beaver, which gained its emblematic status because its pelts were so vital to the development of Canada, doesn’t quite generate the same images of grandeur that its American counterpart, the bald eagle, does.

The beaver’s low profile is OK, though. Canadians don’t need to substitute the beaver for a moose, grizzly bear or cougar anytime soon.

In a way, the beaver is simply an extension of the Canadian people and, likewise, the bald eagle represents the spirit of the American people.

Bald eagles have bravado and are imposing; nobody rumbles with something that can remove an eyeball so quickly.

Furthermore, just like the Californians who build their house on the side of a cliff despite the threat of mudslides, or the Floridians who continue to rebuild their beach house in Boca Raton after every hurricane, the bald eagles slap Mother Nature in the face by nesting on the highest bluffs cawing, “We’d be scared of the heights, but we can fly, so we’re not.”

On the other hand, beavers aren’t flashy as they go about their daily routine building massive dams, which are important to the ecosystem but aren’t winning the beavers any notoriety.

It doesn’t help that beavers build these dams in remote areas, either. In May, an ecologist discovered the world’s largest beaver dam—a 2,790-foot dam in Alberta, Canada, which can be seen from space. Sadly, most people don’t have a view from space so the accomplishment means little. I ain’t no cosmonaut.

Beavers aren’t even the biggest semi-aquatic rodent in the world (watch your back, capybaras). How does this boost national pride?

Simply put, the bald eagle commands respect and exudes dominance. The bald eagle will feed on most anything including fish, rabbits, ducks, muskrats and…ummm…beavers. Gulp.

If the U.S. conquered Canada (and I’ve been told by a few Americans that this should be happening any day now), then the beaver and eagle’s respective national symbol statuses would most certainly come into conflict. I’d like to think Canadians and Americans would be resigned to make the beagle the new national symbol as a small compromise.

And suddenly beavers seem like the more poplar choice, don’t they?

(If you don’t appreciate a column with two puns about kindling, you might have no soul. Science can prove this).