Friday, August 15, 2014

Furs, Fish, Fudge, Fun

In order, that's what has created the economy for Mackinc Island. It was first a post for the trading of furs, which continued a theme to this vacation we didn't realize in our planning for it.


There has been a lot more about war and beavers on this vacation than I realized. As for war, we're still celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, which for Canadians is a moment of great pride (they beat back an American invasion) and which is an enormous part of the history of the area of Michigan we called home for nearly a week. Oh, and let's not forget we're not in the centennial of the First World War, which is a huge deal in Canada, and one can see why war has been present for the whole trip. Interestingly, neither the War of 1812 nor World War I get too much attention in our corner of the U.S. 

Beavers and beaver iconography* have been present throughout the trip. This has, of course, made Sherry quite happy. 

Beaver iconography! The symbol used by many Parks Canada locations.
There were of course many stuffed beavers along our way. 

A Canadian museum cliche. 

Another victim of taxidermy. 
There was one location where Sam got to test different furs, among them beaver, to see why the beaver pelts were so desirous. 

At Fort Mackinac.
Sam was able to choose from fox, badger, and racoon. He thought beaver was most soft. 

Possum wasn't available in Sam's felt test. Get it, felt? 
Apparently, beaver was trapped until extinction in Europe, or so says a guide at Fort Mackinac. And the only thing that stopped such a fate from repeating itself here in North America was a turn in fashion away from beaver and toward silk and cotton in the mid-nineteenth century. Oh, and it also helps that, as rodents, beavers can reproduce prodigiously. 

It's hard to imagine why our tastes in fashion changed. Doesn't anyone look good in a beaver hat? 
Sherry's favorite experience with a beaver was at Science North, when she got to actually pet a beaver. His name was Drifter and he was enormous. He also emitted quite a powerful odor, which a bluecoat told us is a common defense beavers use to keep away predators. Fortunately, Drifter is sociable in the afternoon, allowing relatively odor-free petting. 

Toward the end of the trip, I started to get comfortable enough with the beaver that I got a chance to do a selfie with one. Sherry prefers my crazed expression over the dreamy one. 

My attempt to look dreamy. 

This just came out crazed.
As we travel toward home (whenever these guys at Williams Honda figure out what's going on with the minivan) we'll leave the domain of beavers, which is a shame. 

*small exaggeration 

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