National Beaver Day
The Beaver: National Animal of Canada
ARCHITECTS PELT POLITICIANS WITH A DAM GOOD IDEA
Many people may not give a "dam" that today is National Beaver Day, as
it's been on the last Friday in February since 1974.
National Beaver Day is celebrated by the Nova Scotia Association of
Architects who reacted 20 years ago to a request by the CBC's Peter
Gzowski to name a new holiday. Though it started as a lark, National
Beaver Day has now blossomed into something a little more meaningful,
although still a fun event for the architects.
The beaver, of course, has been a symbol of the good and bad of
Canadians. The well-known member of the rodent family is industrious,
uses natural materials in its concern for the environment, builds well
engineered structures and is indigenous to all provinces and territories
However, it also sometimes feels threatened by developers, at times
finds it hard to keep its head above water and, like Canadians living in
Quebec, is an endangered species.
The beaver was adopted as a symbol by the architects because, by its
very nature, it's an engineer, architect and general contractor. The
beaver was the first to recognize one of Canada's greatest resources --
water -- and has worked hard to preserve it. It's been emblazoned on the
nickel, something every Canadian owns even though some may not have two to
Halifax architect Ted Brown has spearheaded the drive for National
Beaver Day. "We're in the 20th year of continuing our quest to have it
named an official holiday," he said. "There's no national holiday between
January 1 and Easter. It would be great for national unity. And it
doesn't have to be a full day. A half day would do because, after all,
the beaver is industrious and wouldn't want to take a lot of time off."
Seven years ago, Brown wrote then-Halifax member of Parliament Stu
McInnes seeking his support for National Beaver Day. McInnes forwarded
the letter to Tom McMillen, then-environment minister and responsible for
Heritage Day, the third Monday in February which honours the country's
diversification. (Heritage Day was proclaimed 20 years ago but the
federal government has never recognized it as a national holiday),
The response was polite but not positive, and Brown laughed when he
said: "You'll notice they were quickly defeated after they refused to
support the beaver."
He said Canadians need something lighter but are afraid to appear
frivolous. His group holds an annual luncheon on National Beaver Day at
which the Order of the Beaver Award is presented to the Nova Scotia
Association of Architects. Bruce MacKinnon, editorial cartoonist for The
Chronicle-Herald and The Mail Star, received it in the late 1980s for his
many depictions of the beaver as the downtrodden Canadian.
The association also presents its Beaver Droppings Award, won last
year by Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau for continuing to tear the country
"We are having a good time but realize the seriousness of some of the
beaver's work," said Brown. "Use of the beaver's pelt as currency for
more than 100 years led to the settlement of Canada. And by building
dams, the beaver is protecting our water supply and conserving water."
Today, while you sit in your office or go about your chores like an
"eager beaver," think of what this day could be -- National Beaver Day.
And remember, said Brown, "you can lead a beaver to water -- but he'll
probably dam it."
-- Joel Jacobson: The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia; 24 February 1995
[Copyright (C) 1996]