Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
You first of all tie the two paddles, with their handles crossed, to the crossbars of the canoe, then you turn the canoe bottom upwards and lift it on to your head, so that the two paddles rest on your shoulders. Thus your shoulders take the weight with your head inside the canoe.
When you come across a beavers’ “lodge” for the first time, it looks to you a mere pile of mud and driftwood at the edge of the lake. But if you examine it closely, you will find it is a carefully- built, dome-shaped hut, made of sticks and mud and small logs intermingled.
The entrance to it is a round hole, a foot or two below water-level, so that no stranger can come in except by diving, and there is no need to shut the door to keep out the draught on a cold day.
Then inside there is a sort of bench running round the hut, on which the beavers lie with their tails hanging down, so that if the water should rise in the night their tails will get wet and give them warning that something is amiss.
In the top of the dome a very small hole is left, about the size of your thumb, which is the ventilator, and in the winter the warm air may often be seen coming out of it in the form of a thin wisp of steam in the frosty air.
The logs which form the but are chiefly poplar and birch rods, which the beaver cuts down and neatly trims with his powerful teeth.
When a family of beavers have built their “lodge” close to the water’s edge, they then proceed to dam up the river in order to raise its level, so that their door may be well under water, and they show such skill in choosing the place for the dam and in building it up that a tenderfoot would be inclined to think people were kidding him when they told him that it was made by animals and not by men.
One dam, close to which I was once encamped during my visit, was built on a stream which flowed out of a lake, the lodge being about 200 yards from it on t he lake shore.
The lake itself was nearly three miles long and over one mile wide, yet the dam, as made by the beavers, was big enough to cause the water in the lake to rise about two feet above its former level.
Mr. Beaver is a very shy beast. You hardly ever see him in the daytime; but at night, if you keep still, you will often see him swimming about and bringing logs to repair his house or the dam. He is like an enormous rat – the size of a big dog – with a flat, leather-like tail.
His fur is very valuable, and consequently he is getting rather scarce in many places. And in any case he is very difficult to catch, because he is so clever. Trappers use the most cunning, well- hidden traps, but the beaver seems to understand them quite well; in some cases he has been known to overturn them, so that they shall be useless, and in others he has put a log of wood in to release the spring instead of himself. And when a beaver has been caught by the leg, he has been known to bite off his foot and leave that in the trap rather than be taken alive.
Humping a Pack
The beaver dam at which we camped was at the end of a “portage,” that is, where people arrived at the lake-side, having come overland from the next lake, carrying their baggage and canoes. The beavers, squinting out of their house among the reeds, must have seen many “voyageurs,” or canoe parties, arrive at the lake-side by the portage.
Generally a canoe party consists of two, or sometimes three, people. For a portage, one takes the canoe and carries it upside down on his head, having tied the two paddles to the thwarts so as to rest on his shoulders.