Canadian symbols: THE BEAVER

Canadian symbols: THE BEAVER © David Watts, 1999

originally titled via CASTOR CANADENSIS Canadian Specific ®

The beaver is Canada’s national animal. This is natural. Canada is surrounded by water on three sides. Much of our interior, like the human body, is water too.

Joining the waters, crisscrossing the water, conserving the water is what Canada is all about. The beaver has been doing this for millennia.

The bear, moose and mountain lion are mighty mammals that live on the land. The beluga, sea otter and orca are mammals that live off our shores. The beaver is the one animal that transforms the land and does this in harmony with the land.

The beaver can do this because s/he works with the water.

Many of Canada’s names are water words:

Québec: “narrowing of the waters”

Ontario: “beautiful water”

Winnipeg: “murky water”

Saskatchewan: “swift-flowing water”

Calgary: “clear water”

Kamloops: “meeting of the waters”

Illecillewaet: “big water”

It’s in the valley where the Beaver River and the Illecillewaet begin and divide that Rogers found the Pass that brought Canada together “from sea to sea.”

The beaver lies in, and works with fresh water of all kinds.

Like aboriginals and explorers who crossed the country by canoe over lakes and rivers

Like engineers and entrepreneurs who linked the land with steel and asphalt along those waterways—

The Canadian Beaver has become a symbol of ecology, endurance and industry.

Many trees it cuts never find their ways to water or became parts of its dams. They became fallen totems, recycle to the forest floor, embodying divine random, like the water that shape the land and inevitably find their way to the sea.

“Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.

It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.” (Lao Tse)

Canada flows with the waters in four directions. It is the spirit of the beaver, working with what’s there, that makes Canada a country without rigid boundaries.