Canada’s Paul Bun­yan

Canada's History - - TRADING POST -

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.

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