Friday, April 9, 2010

Castor canadensis

Now this little bit of recent trivia is both depressing and hilarious: "The Beaver" has now officially been renamed "Canada's History" out of concern that internet filters are blocking searches because of the term's innuendo.

I always grab a few ancient copies of this great magazine during monthly sojourns into the bowels of the UAF Library: deep in the subterranean archives there are endless shelves stuffed with back issues of this and many other fabulous samples to draw from. Hudson's Bay Company launched this publication in 1920, and it's Canada's second longest-running magazine. The beaver is also Canada's official animal along with being an archetypal symbol used throughout all of human history as a noble mascot. It's a sad state of affairs to see it fall prey to contemporary political correctness, and it leaves me with a gnawing sense of disquiet.
More pelts under the fold... 

From 1760 children's educational book "Beavers building their Hutts"
"... the inside is Spatious and Divided into 3 parts, one for their food, another for their Extrements, and the third where they Lye, having water under and Kep't as clean as any human person cou'd do, carrying all filth and Nastiness on one side." - James Isham (1743) 
I guess one of the reasons this particular species, along with the cartoonist's stock in dogs and cats, is so readily adaptable to humor is the rich potential for investing them with all sorts of anthropomorphic traits. Just a cursory search on my hard-drive unearthed over one-hundred and fifty different beavers - quite the virtual lodge. There's something to be said about it having become my personal mascot/spirit guide over the years, at the very least it's why there's one overflowing shelf in the cabin dedicated to the collection of beavers that folks have given to me.

"... in order to approach more closely a place where on landing I had remarked some large tress half cut through, I advanced quietly on a fours, to see without being seen, these beautiful born architects... There were a dozen of them, who pressing close to one another and standing on their hind feet were sawing, or rather cutting with their teeth a large tree about 12 feet in circumference, whilst more than fifty others were occupied in cutting and trimming the branches of another tree already fallen." - Claude Le Beau (1729)

Taking a peek at the trusty Alaska Place Names Dictionary CD-ROM (truly a geek's dream come true) across this wonderful state there are:
29 Beaver Creeks; 18 Beaver Lakes; miscellaneous Beaver Bays, Beaver Coves, Beaver Lakes, Beaver Falls, Beaver Inlets, Beaver Islands, Beaver Islets, Beaver Mountains, Beaver Ranges, Beaver Peaks, Beaver Points, Beaver Ponds, Beaver Reefs, Beaver Rivers, Beaver Sloughs, and oh yeah, the Village of Beaver itself. 
Come to think of it, Beaver Sports should probably change their name too...

Countering the Beaver's rename, Stephen Colbert has launched a campaign to redefine the new title "Canada's History" as a term on the Urban Dictionary - there are now almost six hundred alternative, euphemistic slangs listed, all variations on the theme of "... involving a moose's antlers, a gallon of maple syrup, and the Stanly Cup." 
Besides ensuring that this particular post will now get filtered and Ink & Snow will never be accessible at any public institution, all this is just an excuse so I can finally show off my all-time favorite piece of fan art ever by Jolene Schafer, not to mention launch a new theme for the blog over the rest of the spring  ...

"Ward, I'm very worried about the Beaver." - June Cleaver


  1. Jamie, isn't it time we went down to Canada's History Sports, and looked at their impressive selection of Moose Antlers, Maple Syrup, and Stanley Cup collectibles?


    "Ward, I'm very worried about the Canada's History." - June Cleaver

  2. Oh man, that reminded me of the "de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver" - now what are supposed to do in the Bush, fly Canada's History?

  3. A 'gnawing sense of disquiet' indeed~! Love this whole expose of injustice. The beaver will always be beautiful! Great work, Jaimie!