The beaver is not only a symbol for the country of Canada, it is also an important part of its history, explains Connor Baldwin. This member of the rodent family has represented the Canadian culture for more than three hundred years, and is greatly appreciated in the area. When the first European explorers reached Canadian soil, they were seeking new land as well as items for trade. These explorers were hoping to find items like spices and produce, and were sorely surprised to discover an arctic landscape that did not support such growth. What they did find was the beaver. Near the end of the 17th century, the beaver population was immense, meaning there were millions of the furry animal roaming freely throughout the land. This made for relatively easy capture or hunting of the animal.
The one thing that the beaver could offer to the explorers that was more precious than spices was its pelt. Fur was the height of fashion at the time, especially with the royals in Europe. The beaver pelt was the right size for the creation of fur covered hats, which were all the rage. Capitalism took hold quickly with such a large supply and greater demand. People such as King Henry the Fourth of France had hats created for his own personal use, and the trend just seemed to skyrocket from there. Everyone wanted a fur hat similar to the king’s, and they were willing to pay a pretty penny for it. In many cases, the people of Europe were paying a two hundred percent markup on the cost of skinning, treating, and molding the fur into a hat shape. Today, Connor Baldwin only takes photographs of the beaver, but he knows that without this animal, Canada would not have become as prosperous.