The Beaver


The beaver is nature’s great builder: erecting lodges, burrowing dens and tunnels, constructing dams, digging canals, and creating vast winter food-caches.

In some places, beavers have changed a landscape – forever. In all cases, beavers act as nature’s engineers – managing forest growth, refurbishing soil, and providing a habitat for myriad species of wildlife.

Once classified as a fish, hunted for the medical properties of its scent organs, and trapped into near-extinction for its fur, the beaver has survived.

In this beautiful book, Frank Westcott has patiently and diligently recorded the life in two beaver colonies in each of the four seasons. From the birth of the litters in spring, he watched the kits grow while the adults worked at their age-old tasks – from morning to evening and, sometimes, at night. And then, Frank supplemented his journal with notes made from voluminous research.

Besides the seasonal accounts and numerous margin entries, there is detailed information about other fascinating aspects of the beaver. A range of chapters presents material on fur processing, the fur trade, the beaver’s anatomy, and the population distribution of the beaver’s legion of sub-species. There are also chapters on place names, symbols, and native peoples as they relate to the beaver.

Throughout all this, over 100 exquisite pencil-drawings by acclaimed wildlife artist, Juliana Hawke, bring the world of the beaver to vivid life. Her illustrations are a product of intensive observation and extensive research – a true labour of love that will enchant readers of this unique book.

About the Authors

Frank Westcott

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Frank Westcott photo

Frank Westcott

Frank Westcott's articles, stories, and poetry have appeared in publications in Canada, the United States, and India. He has taught in schools including five years of special education for handicapped children. He lives in Alliston, Ontario.