An Ode to the Urban Beaver


Nothing beats the urban beaver.

Remember when I wrote about my struggle to find an elusive beaver? It’s hard to imagine those hard days of yesteryear. I’ve gone from curse of the beaver to beaver whisperer.

We’ve found the mythical urban beaver of Toronto’s Leslie Spit and on a recent voyage to Sam Smith Park in search of the urban snowy owl, we discovered that this fine city oasis harbours a thriving beaver population.

Having learned the hard way that a beaver in hand is better than two birds (or one snowy owl, in this case) in the bush, I decided to embrace my beaver luck and focus one fine April evening on documenting this city dwelling creature.


For what might be a first, the beaver sought me out while I was sitting shore-side at Sam Smith Park scoping for the snowy owl.

It appeared from under the slow-melting ice and paid me only a quick glance before swimming to within a few feet of me and climbing ashore to begin gorging on enticing sticks and deadwood.


And though the setting sun provided a few photographic challenges, the beaver couldn’t have been more cooperative.


If I wanted tail shots, he’d give me tail shots.


If I wanted action shots? Sure, he’d comply.


Not good enough? How about a walkabout?


Maybe a nice dive into the water would be nice? Check.


Or possibly a nice side view would look pretty in the evening light? Done.


Sometimes he’d position his eating to allow me to use the ice as the backdrop.


And sometimes he’d give me a nice reflection shot.


For the most part, the only time he seemed to notice the presence of people would be if someone walked directly behind him and snapped a branch (a few people, including me by accident, caused him to jump doing this).

The beaver even put up with photographers on either side of him.


(Steve, seen in this image, is a great photographer we enjoyed meeting at Sam Smith. Check out his work here.)

But for whatever reason, this beaver hated Jill.

I don’t think hate is even a strong enough word.

Whenever he’d see that she was within his eyesight, he’d stop what he was doing and glare at her. With evil eyes.


He even bluff charged her. Seriously.

While I found the large rodent to quite possibly be the most cooperative animal I’ve ever documented, Jill was essentially shut out in the photo department. She couldn’t afford to look through her view finder without fearing for her life.

And it wasn’t like she was closer to the beaver than I was. Or did something to startle him. He just had a genuine dislike for her general presence. (Don’t take it personally Jill!)

In spite of his unprovoked hatred for my fiancee, I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable evening with the urban beaver of Toronto’s Sam Smith Park. If you’re in the city and looking for a nature fix, I encourage you to pay him a visit. Just don’t say Jill sent you.


– D. Simon Jackson |

2 thoughts on “An Ode to the Urban Beaver

  1. The beaver whisperer hahahaa, another very entertaining story. Just love it!
    The close-up is beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing!


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