Canada’s Paul Bunyan
Many people have heard of the mythical American lumberjack Paul Bunyan, but fewer have heard of his Canadian cousin, Big Joe Mufferaw. Believed to be based upon nineteenth-century Quebec logger Joseph Montferrand, Mufferaw became a Bunyanesque figure in the Ottawa Valley. Blessed with tremendous strength and endurance, Mufferaw was depicted in tall tales as the defender of the working class, particularly working-class French Canadians. In the 1970s, his legend was cemented by Canadian folksinger Stompin’ Tom Connors, who sang of Mufferaw’s many fantastic feats: “And they say Big Joe drank a bucket of gin/ And he beat the livin’ tar outta twenty-nine men/ And high on the ceiling of the Pembroke pub/ There’s twenty-nine boot marks and they’re signed with love.” In 2005, a sculpture of Mufferaw was installed in Mattawa, Ontario — carved, appropriately enough, out of a large log.