Kate (second from left) from Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, with her family

by D.J. Stephenson

Seeking, as we all are, a distraction from the current news cycle, it was wonderful to see a disparate group of locals helping one of our small cousins out of a jam this week.

Beverly, as he/she/they was named, was a young beaver spotted on the mid-level of the small weir between the Thoburn Mill and the Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail early Thursday morning by a couple of the sharp-eyed contractors working in the area.  A few calls were made around, revealing that a) wildlife is not a responsibility of Town of Mississippi Mills animal enforcement, and b) beavers are believed to be tough and independent and able to get themselves out of improbable situations.

So, a 2×4 was provided for Beverly to use to get back up to the river and left alone. He/she/they explored it briefly and went back to staring ruefully out toward the main course of the Mississippi.

When Beverly was still there at the end of the evening on Thursday, a leafy branch was provided for food and everyone went to bed hoping that the problem would solve itself overnight.

No dice: on Friday morning the beaver was still hunkered down in the same spot.  So, a call went out to the community for suggestions.  “Turn off the water.” “Turn up the water.” “Push it off.” “Call the fire department.”  “Leave it alone – it’s social distancing!” “Call the Hudson’s Bay Company.”

Instead, Lynn Melbourne wisely contacted the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, who quickly appeared on the scene with a ladder, some nets, and a large Tupperware bin to get Beverly back to a more familiar environment than a concrete spillway.  You can see more pictures and details of the rescue on Facebook, including an action-packed video of the nab, scope and hefting of our furry friend. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1621615121213777/permalink/3986662654709000/

The British journalist Claud Cockburn is famously credited with winning an in-house contest at The Times for writing the dullest printed headline with “Small Earthquake in Chile, Not many dead”.  And something similar could be applied to this story as well: “Adolescent Beaver lifted off ledge, Mildly traumatized”.

But this little world in a grain of sand is very telling and big news in its own way.  We all want small stories of little victories for goodness and kindness at the moment.  They will remind us in digestible ways of why we are making sacrifices to protect others and work at the same time for greater social justice for more people.

And one of the wonderful things about Almonte is that it just seems to be full of these small stories of inspiration.  Even those of sadness and loss are occasions for people to rally together and show that we care for each other.  And more: we care for the things that share our world with us as well.  Beavers and oak trees and marshes.

So please take heart from this story of Beverly and look for ways to help each other in these times.  And if all else fails, post a question on Facebook; it might at least tell you what not to do.  Because, after all, it has been some years since the Hudson’s Bay Company was interested in receiving beaver pelts!

Photos kindly provided by Lynn Melbourne and Allan Brown.