________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 16. . . . April 11, 2003

cover Beaverman.

Rosie Dransfeld (Director). Bonnie Thompson & Jerry Krepakevich (Producers). Rosie Dransfeld
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2002.
52 min., VHS, $49.95.
Order Number: C9102 041.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

** /4

From its dramatic opening showing a beaver dam being blown up amid the strains of O Canada, this video chronicles one man's lifetime obsession with the beaver and his quest to understand why Canada's national animal haunts him. David May, a Scotsman who has made his home in Canada for 30 years, traces the history of a preoccupation which he believes began when he once trapped a beaver. Subsequent nightmares convinced him that the "beaver has chosen me to pay for the sins of mankind." His devotion to all things "beaver" has separated him from his family; the research for a book totally consumes his spare time.

     May traces coincidences that have linked his life to the beaver, replacing religion as a source of intellectual and spiritual stimulation. He revisits an associate (ironically, an hydraulic engineer) from his boyhood as a Scout leader of the Beaver Patrol (so named even though the beaver has long been extinct in Scotland) and seeks answers in Roman history, (where he discovers the ancient site of the Temple of Castor). Along the way, he learns more fascinating details of beaver anatomy and how state-of-the-art traps are being designed to ensure humane trapping methods. He finally confides in a Cree elder, feeling that the answers he seeks may be found in Native culture which accords the beaver high respect. He is urged to embark on a vision quest to try and communicate with the beaver through the spiritual world. May is guided through the rituals of the sweat lodge and immersion in a lake where he attempts to find the vital connection between his mind and heart. Although he fails to make contact with the beaver spirit, he emerges from the experience convinced he has confronted his true sense of self.

     The video is not a comprehensive source of information, but viewers interested in the beaver will learn some little-known facts in this unconventional, 52 minute presentation. May's steadfast pursuit of his dream to find meaning in life could promote discussion on a philosophical level.


Gillian Richardson, a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian, lives in BC.


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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364