Thc Canadian beaver, official symbol of Canada March 24, 1975.
Photo Credit: Image from CBC "Nature of Things" Tv documantary.

History: March 24,1975- The Beaver, Canada’s “National (animal) Symbol”


Quite a few countries for centuries have had ferocious animals as their national symbols, lions, or tigers, or bears, or eagles for example

On this date only a few decades ago in 1975, a private member’s bill, which had been passed by the Senate the day before, received Royal Assent, making the beaver the official national symbol of Canada.

The proposal my the Member of Parliament, the late, Sean O’Sullivan was called, an “act to provide for the recognition of the beaver (castor canadensis) as a symbol of the sovereignty of Canada”

The Canadian 5-cent coin, also called a “nickel” as it was once minted from pure nickel, has featured a Canadian beaver symbol almost continuously from 1937 © wiki

It was in fact the demand for beaver pelts and the energies of Scots and British entrepreneurs in Canada, who built up the city of Montreal as the centre of the fur trade. The beaver is still used on the city’s official coat of arms,

The coat of arms of Montreal features the four founding nations, the Lys for French settlers, the rose for the English, thistle for the Scots, shamrock for the irish, with the Cross of St George dividing the shield into quarters. the Motto “Concordia Salus” means “salvation through harmony” The Beaver of course tops the shield. © City of Montreal

It was the quest for beaver pelts and other fur bearing animal skins, that sent fur trading expeditions further and further into the country following a number of Scottish-Canadian explorers who mapped the land and established forts, and later settlements, to eventually lead to the creation of Canada, and resist American expansion northward.

The Bank of Montreal coat of arms actually features two beavery symbols, one atop and one in the coat of arms and is flanked by two First nations figures. It is also quite similar to the city of Montreal coat of arms except with rose, thistle and shamrock only. This photo from 1974 from the Bank of Montreal in Lunenburg Nova Scotia © Bank of Montreal

Thus the beaver was an incredibly important symbol in the creation of the country,

It was used as a symbol for several military units in the first world war, and is still used for some units such as the R22eR “VanDoos”, one of Canada’s oldest regiments and French speaking, and for the Calgary Higlanders.

The Calbary Highlanders Cap badge, with the Cross of St Andrew and beaver featured. The beaver was been the symbol of many military units in WW1, and is also still the symbol for the French-language regiment 222eR, one of Canada’s oldest continous regiments. © Calgary Highlanders

The beaver may not be considered ferocious like some countries other symbols, but it is capable of incredible feats of engineering, it is industrious, and it gets the job done.

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