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Rare Bear: The Beaver’s Persistance

By Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner


It’s been exactly ten years since I lived in the Magnetawan Area of Ontario.   I went there twenty years ago to found a church and spent ten years growing it. I also spent two weeks of those years battling beavers.

Looking through my memoirs I recall the day the battle started. It was two years before I moved from there that one day I discovered the starting of a Beaver Dam.  I knew immediately what it was:  the layout was quite intricate, and also very sturdy.

The Beaver starts with sticks that are curved at one end…and straight at the other.   They line up the sticks in such a way that the curved end which is at the forefront looks like a rake lying face up.  The balance is in the back.  So you have a rake lying on the ground with the handle towards the rear of the dam. Then begins the job of backfilling the spaces in-between.  Then they lay another layer of rake-like branches and refill that. It takes about a week and a half to build a beaver dam, depending on how many beavers are working at it.

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Now, this dam was about 18 feet across and by the time it was finished…with water flowing through it, the distance was about a third of a mile. I say it was finished because I finally gave up and let the Beaver go at it.

You see. the house we lived in was perched on the edge of a quartz mine…unused except for the occasional hunting party.  But the entrance to the mine was where the beavers had elected to place it…just about eight feet into the entrance, where there was a burgeoning creek.    It was only a little one, I knew that if they completed the dam it would be turned into a lake….big time.

So I went to work immediately and spent two hours separating the wood and actually carrying it away a small distance in each direction.  Then I went home content in the knowledge that I had thwarted Mother Nature!  I mean, only two months before a beaver dam had burst on a highway in the vicinity, and it washed out the highway for a stretch of a quarter-mile.  I wasn’t being mean…I was just avoiding what could be a tragedy.   After all, if the mine re-opened; and it was likely it would….how would you get to the quartz.

Two or three days later, I was walking in the woods and lo and behold, the beavers would not give up.  They had re-laid the wooden frame and started to backfill the dam with mud and brush.  I contacted the owner of the mine but he failed to answer, and for two days I was at a loss of what to do.  When he did call back the dam was now halfway to completion. He still said it would have to go. I told him it would take a bulldozer to get rid of the dam, and he could not believe it.   After viewing it the following day he conceded.

I don’t know how many families were in-house in the midst of that dam when I left, but I imagined at least five. It had grown so big that the owner had cut a new entrance in from the back of the mine.

Beavers were pretty nearly killed off in the 1700s because of a craze for Beaver Hats in Europe and England. During the height of the Fur Trade, over 200,000 beaver pelts were shipped across the ocean. Today they have recovered, and in some instances are a real nuisance….but for the most part, they are so Determined that the real Ontarioan says –sometimes with gritted teeth—Let them live.

WHY

Every day’s a struggle
When I’m burdened down with care;
Even when I know God’s heard,
And is answering my prayer.
Though I know the answers coming
And I feel it drawing near,
Still, I cannot shake the heaviness
And throw away the fear.
Is it only me who suffers
With this mortal chain of shame?
Or are there others, also
Who cannot shake the blame?


Barry was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1935 and schooled to Grade 10, but continued educational pursuits until age 65 when he graduated from Open Word Bible College. He started working for Spitzer and Mills advertising in 1952, then moved to the Broadcast arena where for 62 years he was News Director and Talk Show Host at several Canadian Radio Stations. He was one of 5 consultants who managed to lobby for Christian Radio in Canada, and in the last five years before retirement, he was News Director of Canadian Altar.Net News, a network of 25 Christian Radio Stations across Canada from Charlottetown PEI to Campbell River BC.
Barry Kentner is a semi-retired pastor.

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