Once They Were Hats: In Search Of The Mighty Beaver
On Sale: October 13, 2015
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Non-Fiction Pet-Lover | Non-Fiction History | Non-Fiction
Beavers, those icons of industriousness, have been gnawing down trees, building dams, shaping the land, and
creating critical habitat in North America for at least a million years. Once one of the continent’s most
ubiquitous mammals, they ranged from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Rio Grande to the edge of the
northern tundra. Wherever there was wood and water, there were beavers — 60 million (or more) — and
wherever there were beavers, there were intricate natural communities that depended on their activities. Then
the European fur traders arrived.
In ONCE THEY WERE HATS, Frances Backhouse examines humanity’s 15,000-year relationship with Castor
canadensis, and the beaver’s even older relationship with North American landscapes and ecosystems. From
the waterlogged environs of the Beaver Capital of Canada to the wilderness cabin that controversial
conservationist Grey Owl shared with pet beavers; from a bustling workshop where craftsmen make beaver-felt
cowboy hats using century-old tools to a tidal marsh where an almost-lost link between beavers and salmon
was recently found, Backhouse goes on a journey of discovery to find out what happened after we nearly
wiped this essential animal off the map, and how we can learn to live with beavers now.
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