Wednesday, November 16

Was Paul Bunyan Really Canadian?

I grew up right outside the town most famous for its big statue of this Amerian folk hero and his equally famous sidekick. Did you know that these statues of Paul and Babe are the second most photographed icons in the U.S.? Eastman Kodak says so, and you'd think they'd know.

Although there are several towns that claim to be Paul Bunyan's true hometown, Bemidji's only real competition came from Brainerd, MN (You know, that town of Fargo fame!), which had a big talking Paul Bunyan in an amusement park. But the park's been closed, and Paul's been moved out of town, so Brainard's claim to Paul seems to have lost much of its steam.

Yep, Paul is a big part of American folk history. He's got a stamp to prove it, right along with John Henry, Mighty Casey and Pecos Bill.

Unfortunately, Paul might really be Canadian. And French Canadian at that! At least that's what it says at Wikipedia, and who would want to argue with Wikipedia? Paul, it seems, crossed the Sault Ste. Marie River--in one step, I'm sure--into Michigan. He must have crossed alone, because big blue Babe is an all-American ox. Paul walked over to Minnesota, where his big footprints stamped out the 10,000 lakes.

The great American folk hero Paul Bunyan, then, joins basketball as another of those American icons that was really invented by the Canadians.