CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mr.K and the Beaver

photographer-Dominique Braud
There was a little creek that started in a marshy area just west of the Mattawa section house about one km . The marsh was small but fed by run off from higher land and by springs . The creek followed the access road to our yard where a grate covered the tunnel that led it under the tracks where it emerged about a mile northeast of our house on its way to the Ottawa River .

One summer , about 1959/60 , there had been little rainfall and the creek , fed only by springs was reduced to half its width and depth . While we kids were playing outside , the creek was always part of our play looking for frogs or jewel weed or wild cucumber along its banks for entertainment .

One morning , we discovered a huge light brown beaver , pressed up against the grate , unable to follow the creek any further . This caused quite a stir among us , for we had never been this close to a beaver before . We had seen them working ponds and had heard the smack of a beaver's tail against the water . But we had never seen one in such a vulnerable position . Out in the daylight . Caught well away from other beaver and lodges . Of course , we ran to sound the announcement to any adult within reach .

The section men were working the track in front of the house and came rushing at the word 'beaver' . It was the bane of their work in that it created a lot of extra work with damming culverts and flooding track . They wanted to see what this beaver was up to .

Dad , Otto and his eldest son left their tools to the new task at hand . How to rid themselves of this beaver . Expecting the usual specimen , they were amazed to see a very large , 50 pound rodent at the creek grate . This was going take some discussion .

If you have seen a beaver
you will recognize that this
photo is actually upsidedown.
The longer teeth are on the
jaw (bottom).
At being poked the beaver turned toward them and made a kind of hissing sound which sent me scuttling behind the adults . I had visions of the animal launching itself at my throat and taking a chunk out of me . What chance did flesh have against teeth that could cut down trees ? Of course , beaver don't 'launch'. Neither are they interested in biting anyone unless provoked . Poking is provoking and in my book that meant getting out of range .

 Every few minutes , I sneaked a peek and retreated with every new bit of information the men spoke . "Look at the size of this beaver . It has got to be fifty pounds at least." (Peek. Retreat.)
" He's an old one for sure." (Peek. Retreat.)
" Look at the length of those teeth . He hasn't used them in a while. They are too long. He can't close his mouth." (Peek . Peek again. Step back.)
" He's blind . too. Doesn't even respond to the stick until it right close .( Watch demonstration. Step back.)
" How in h*** are we going to get him out of there?"
" We could put the pick to him."
" J**** no . There are kids around."
" Trapper?"
" Too long. No time."

It was then that Mr. K. came along with a large burlap sack . Silently ( as usual ) he knelt at the edge of the grate and reached down toward the beaver.
This sent the men into a tizzy . "Watch out ! He'll take your finger off."

There was no response from Mr. K. Leaning a little further , his arm disappeared from view . When he straightened up , he had the beaver suspended by its front teeth , hanging stiff as a board- unmoving . Then , he pointed with his chin at the sack . The men held it open and the beaver was lowered into the bag . After tieing the bag , Mr.K. dipped it into the creek to wet it . He handed the bag to the men and walked silently away .

After a short ride on the motorcar , the beaver was released further east in an area suitable to him . In a few short minutes , he had waddled toward the water and submerged from sight . Whatever was going to happen to this beaver was going to happen naturally . " He hasn't got much time left ," Dad told us later . " At least , he'll die happy." (???)

Beside all the excitement with beaver , I was truly impressed with Mr. K . I ceased spying on him and at every opportunity told the Beaver Tale , hoping it would impress others as much as it did me .

It was not long after , I found out that all the time Mr. K. had spent in the shed behind locked doors , he was carving tool handles from ash wood he collected in the forest behind the house . He sold these to the hardware store to earn a little income for himself . He also sharpened axes and knives for locals for a small fee . The locked doors were to keep nosy children safe and out of trouble .

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