By Bev Schellenberg
The Beaver is no more. Begun in 1920 in celebration of the Hudson Bay Company and the fur trade, Canada’s foremost historical magazine will now be titled Canada’s History. Who would’ve thought such a venerable institution would buckle under to a bit of competition from internet porn sites?
According to its publisher, Deborah Morrison, the name has become a problem for online readers who find their magazine sometimes blocked by spam filters. Eighty years ago, “beaver” meant a semi-aquatic rodent, and to many it still does, but it’s also, of course, a slang term for a woman’s genitalia. But so what?
The Boy Scouts don’t appear to be afraid of internet mislabeling. Their youngest cohort, ages 5-7, continues to be called “Beavers” in many parts of the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. No mention on their website that they’re concerned about being mistaken for women’s privates.
The football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, soccer, and volleyball teams at Oregon State University are still the Beavers. Benny Beaver continues to be the university’s mascot, initially chosen because of Oregon’s historic fur trade. Given the beaver’s dam-building prowess, he is also a proud representative of their engineering program.
Even Surrey, British Columbia, a city willing to kill beavers — as shown by the rise in beaver murders, from 15 in 2006 to 40 in 2008 — continues to display the furry creature on its flag. Local teams such as the Surrey Beavers Rugby team continue to be so-named in spite of the innuendo. Even their lodge, housed in Cloverdale, is the “Beaverlodge.”
The Beaver magazine, though, seems to take pride in turning tail. They point out the “international attention” their change of title has earned them in the UK’s The Register, Australia’s Daily Telegraph, and the National Post. According to Morrison, the move to the innocuous Canada’s History was made largely for the sake of women and people under the age of 45. “Unfortunately, sometimes words take on an identity that wasn’t intended in 1920, when it was all about the fur trade,” she told the Post.
Well, speaking as a woman under the age of 45, I’m disappointed in the change from double entendre to dull and boring. And as one who shares a similar name, I’m doubly disappointed. I’m proud to be called “Beverley,” or “of the beaver lake or stream.” Should I follow the decision of a magazine that I have, until recently, held in high regard, and change my name to simply “Lake” or “Stream”? Or, concerned about the sexual innuendo in the expression “eager beaver,” should we now change it to “eager rat”?
Watch out, Canadian magazines. Owl, the magazine for ages 9-13, could be mistaken for a magazine about prostitutes. After all, both come out at night. Gripped, Canada’s Climbing Magazine, might be thought of as a publication better suited for a very private setting. Cottage Life, a magazine of cottage traditions and lifestyles, may soon be considered an alternate lifestyle publication. Such titles could be the next offerings sacrificed on the altar of the new P.C.: that is, pornographic censorship.