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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Hastings England, on the grounds of the William Parker School, formerly the Hastings Grammar School, grows a Canadian Red Maple. A number of blocks from the school is plaque of commemoration. Four miles to the east, at the Hastings Park ranger station, there is another commemorative plaque. And back in town, at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery there is a life size replica of a log cabin which once sat at a lake side in the Canadian wilderness.

The plaque commemorates Archibald Belaney. Otherwise known as Grey Owl.

Here’s a man that has greater recognition from, and status in, the country he left and denied any physical link to. Archibald became Grey Owl. A man with a history as Canadian as one could ever imagine. But there is more dedication to his existence by the community that he left and denied any common history with.

Grey Owl is the grandfather of the conservation/environmental movement in Canada: maybe the world. And if it weren’t for Grey Owl the beaver would not be one of our national symbols. If it weren’t for Grey Owl the beaver just might be extinct! Has anyone looked at a nickel lately?

Every Canadian should know who Jellyroll and Rawhide were. If they don’t they need to find out.

Every Canadian needs to understand what it means to uproot one’s self from a culture and become part of another. Then become Canadian. And then to contribute to that culture.

Archibald became Canadian. We all need to become Grey Owl.

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