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Encyclopedia > Paul Bunyan (lumberjack)
Paul and Babe in Bemidji, Minnesota
Paul and Babe in Bemidji, Minnesota

Paul Bunyan is a mythical lumberjack in tall tales. French Canadians gave birth to the tales during the Papineau Rebellion of 1837, when they revolted against the young English Queen. This would probably explain the origin of Bunyan's last name since "Bonyenne" is a colloquial French-Canadian expression of surprise and astonishment meaning "Good Grief" or "My Goodness". Download high resolution version (1164x718, 158 KB)Bemidji File links The following pages link to this file: Paul Bunyan Bemidji, Minnesota Categories: Free use images ... Download high resolution version (1164x718, 158 KB)Bemidji File links The following pages link to this file: Paul Bunyan Bemidji, Minnesota Categories: Free use images ... Bemidji is a city located in Beltrami County, Minnesota. ... The word mythology (Greek: μυθολογία, from μυθος mythos, a story or legend, and λογος logos, an account or speech) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use supernatural events or characters to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. ... Lumberjack is the traditional name of a person, almost always a man, who makes his living cutting down trees. ... A tall tale is a story that claims to explain the reason for some natural phenomenon, or sometimes illustrates how skilled/intelligent/powerful the subject of the tale was. ... French Canadian is a term that has several different connotations. ... Flag used by the Patriotes between 1832 and 1838 The Lower Canada Rebellion is the name given to the armed conflict between the rebels of Lower Canada (now Quebec) and the British colonial power of that province. ... | Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1837 - 1901) 1837 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...


Voyageur origins

The traditional English-French cultural border of 19th century Canada was the Ottawa River, main highway for the forestry industry and a centuries-old way of penetrating the immense interior of the continent, since the days of the voyageurs and fur-traders of New France. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... This is about the river in Canada. ... The coureurs des bois (runners of the woods) or voyageurs (travellers) is the name given to the men who engaged in the fur trade directly with the Amerindians in North America from the time of New France up through the 19th century, when much of the continent was still mostly... New France (French: la Nouvelle-France) describes the area colonized by France in North America during a period extending from the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River, by Jacques Cartier in 1534, to the cession of New France to the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1763. ...

The origin of the legends hold that at the mouth of the river in the Two Mountains area near Saint-Eustache, Québec, loggers stormed into battle against the British, among them a fierce and bearded giant named Paul Bonjean, monikered as "Bonyenne". (Another series of related legends are based on the feats of an actual man having lived in logging camps in the Ottawa Valley named Big Joe Mufferaw or Jos. Montferrand.) Defender of the people, the popular hero's legends moved up-river from shanty ("chantier" in French) to shanty. His name was anglified and stories were eventually modified and added upon from storyteller to storyteller. Two Mountains was a former federal electoral district represented in the Canadian House of Commons, and located in the province of Quebec. ... Saint-Eustache is a city in western Quebec, west of Montreal on the southwestern end of the Rivière des Mille-ÃŽles. ... During the 1960s, a terrorist group known as the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade of bombings, robberies and attacks on government offices. ... Statue of Mufferaw in Mattawa, Ontario. ...

Crossing the Sault-Ste-Marie river in northern Michigan, American loggers gave him Babe, the ox, and the mythical logging camp. By 1860, Paul Bunyan had become an American legendary hero, on the scale of Hercules or Asterix. Sault Ste. ... Official language(s) English de-facto Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 11th 96,716 mi² 250,494 km² 239 miles 385 km 491 miles 790 km 41. ... 1860 is the leap year starting on Sunday. ... Hercules and Cacus, by Baccio Bandinelli, 1525 - 1534. ... A shrewd, cunning little warrior; all perilous missions are immediately entrusted to him. ...

Ironically, although the Paul Bunyan legend is that of a giant, it can be somewhat related to the tales of "Ti-Jean" or "Little-John" the trickster which were part of New-France and Louisiana folklore since the mid-1600's and have thrived in fur-trading outposts such as Michillimacinac, Sault-Ste-Marie, Fort Pontchartrain (Detroit) and logging camp oral tradition all over northern Ontario, Michigan and Minnesota and the Great Lakes and Mississippi watershed. The trickster figure Rénert the Fox as depicted in an 1869 childrens book by Michel Rodange. ... Official language(s) English and French Capital Baton Rouge Largest city New Orleans at last census; probably Baton Rouge since Hurricane Katrina Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 31st 134,382 km² 210 km 610 km 16 29°N to 33°N 89°W to 94°W Population... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor... Official language(s) None Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 12th 225,365 km² 400 km 645 km 8. ... This article is about the group of North American lakes. ... Official language(s) English Capital Jackson Largest city Jackson Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 32nd 46,914 km² 275 km 545 km 3 30°13N to 35°N 88°7W to 91°41W Population  - Total (2000)  - Density Ranked 31st 2,697,243 23. ...

Studies have shown that these old European trickster myths may have been fused with Native American folklore and may also have inspired the creation of yet another profoundly American character, Bugs Bunny. Bugs Bunny, as seen in the Looney Tunes short Rabbit Transit. ...

Lumberjack legends

A lumberjack of huge size and strength, Paul Bunyan has become a folkloric character in the American psyche. It is said that he and his blue ox, Babe, were so large their footsteps created Minnesota's ten thousand lakes. Babe measured 42 axe handles and a plug of chewing tobacco between his horns. He was found during the winter of the blue snow; his mate was Bessie, the Yaller Cow. Binomial name Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758 Cattle are domesticated ungulates, a member of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae. ... Official language(s) None Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 12th 225,365 km² 400 km 645 km 8. ...

Like many myths, this explains a physical phenomenon. Bunyan's birth was strange, as are the births of many mythic heroes, as it took seventeen storks to carry the infant (ordinarily, one stork could carry several babies and drop them off at their parents' home). Paul and Babe dug the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe behind him, and created Mount Hood by piling rocks on top of their campfire to put it out. The Grand Canyon, as seen from river-level The Grand Canyon from inside For other Grand Canyons see Grand Canyon (disambiguation). ... The axe (or ax) is an ancient and ubiquitous tool that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood, harvest timber, as a weapon and a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. ... Mount Hood is an active stratovolcano in northern Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. ...

He is a classic American "big man" who was popular in 19th century America as an exemplar of a minority group, much as in French-Canadian lore. Further, the Bunyan myths sprang from lumber camp tales, bawdy to put it mildly. In one such tale, extreme cold forced bears to look for food; one wandered into a lumber camp. It chased the lumberjacks up a tree on which they had a ladder. To keep the bear from climbing after them (despite the fact bears do not need ladders to climb trees), they kicked down the ladder. This saved them from the bear, but trapped them in the tree. To escape, the lumberjacks urinated in unison and created a frozen pole, which they slid down. Such tall tales, though later toned down, were attributed to a single character, Bunyan, and became the stories we know today. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Newspaper legends

The popularization of the myth of Paul Bunyan can be traced back to James MacGillivray, an itinerant newspaper reporter who wrote the first Paul Bunyan article for the Oscoda (MI) News in 1906 and an expanded version of the same article for the Detroit News. He collected the stories from actual lumberjacks, and began disseminating the legend with the July 24, 1910 printing of The Round River Drive which included the following, concerning Dutch Jake (another mythical lumberjack of great strength) and the narrator participating in a Bunyan-sponsored contest to cut down the biggest tree in the forest. James MacGillivray is the name of: James MacGillivray (sculptor), (1856-1938), Scottish sculptor (often called James Pittendrigh MacGillivray) James MacGillivray (writer), (fl. ... Along with The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News (owned by Gannett) is one of the two major Metro Detroit newspapers. ... July 24 is the 205th day (206th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 160 days remaining. ... -1...

"Dutch Jake and me had picked out the biggest tree we could find on the forty, and we'd put three days on the cut with our big saw, what was three crosscuts brazed together, making 30 feet of teeth. We was getting along fine on the fourth day when lunchtime comes, and we thought we'd best get to the sunny side to eat. So we grabs our grub and starts around that tree.
'We hadn't gone far when we heard a noise. Blamed if there wasn't Bill Carter and Sailor Jack sawin' at the same tree. It looked like a fight at first, but we compromised, meetin' each other at the heart on the seventh day. They'd hacked her to fall to the north, and we'd hacked her to fall to the south, and there that blamed tree stood for a month or more, clean sawed through, but not knowin' which way to drop 'til a windstorm came along and throwed her over."

Statues of both Bunyan and Babe exist in Bemidji, Minnesota, Westwood, California, Del Norte County, California, and in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Statues of Bunyan exist in Akeley, Minnesota, Bangor, Maine; Ossineke, Michigan; Brainerd, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; St. Maries, Idaho; and Shelton, Washington. Bunyan is depicted on the world's largest wood carving, at the entrance to Sequoia National Park in California. There is a group called the Mystic Knights of the Blue Ox in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Bemidji is a city located in Beltrami County, Minnesota. ... Westwood is also a district in the city of Los Angeles, California Westwood is a census-designated place located in Lassen County, California. ... Del Norte County is Californias northwesternmost county, located on the Pacific coast south of Oregon. ... Eau Claire is a city located in west-central Wisconsin. ... Official language(s) None Capital Madison Largest city Milwaukee Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 23rd 169,790 km² 420 km 500 km 17 42°30N to 47°3N 86°49W to 92°54W Population  - Total (2000)  - Density Ranked 18th 5,453,896 38. ... Akeley is a city located in Hubbard County, Minnesota. ... Downtown Bangor Bangor is a city located in Penobscot County, Maine, United States. ... The historic Brainerd water tower, the first of its kind, was used from 1922 until 1959. ... Nickname: City of Roses, Stumptown, Bridgetown Official website: http://www. ... St. ... Shelton is a city located in Mason County, Washington. ... Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California. ... This page refers to the city of Bayfield. ...

Paul Bunyan has dozens of towns vying for being considered his home: the above mentioned Bemidji, Brainerd, Shelton, and Westwood; and Bay City, Michigan, where several authors, including James Stevens and D. Laurence Rogers, have traced the tales to the exploits of French Canadian lumberjack Fabian "Saginaw Joe" Fournier, 1845-1875. Fournier worked for the H.M. Loud Company in the Grayling, MI, area, 1865-1875, where MacGillivray later worked and apparently picked up the stories.

Recent fiction

Paul Bunyan makes an appearance in the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. He is the subject of a poem by Robert Frost called "Paul's Wife", found in New Hampshire Cover of Red Mars The Mars trilogy is a series of three science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson, chronicling the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars. ... Kim Stanley Robinson at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005 Kim Stanley Robinson (born March 23, 1952) is an American science fiction writer, probably best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy. ... Robert Frost Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. ...

See also

Folklore is the body of verbal expressive culture, including tales, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs current among a particular population, comprising the oral tradition of that culture, subculture, or group. ... Fakelore is inauthentic, manufactured folklore which is created in the hope that it will be accepted as genuine and/or legitimate. ... The folklore of the United States, or American folklore, is the folk tradition which has evolved on the North American continent since Europeans arrived in the 16th century. ... Operation Paul Bunyan was a countermeasure taken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in response to an attack by North Korean soldiers in the village of Panmunjeom within the Korean Demilitarized Zone. ... Paul Bunyans Axe is a traveling trophy, named after the mythical giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan, passed between the University of Minnesota (Gophers) and University of Wisconsin (Badgers) football teams, given annually to the winning team immediately upon the conclusion of the game. ... The Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy is a college rivalry trophy awarded to the winner of the annual American football game between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State University Spartans. ... This is a list of famous people who either were born in Minnesota or spent some important time in Minnesota. ... Paul Bunyan was a choral operetta composed by Benjamin Britten with lyrics by W. H. Auden. ...

Other Big Men

Statue of Mufferaw in Mattawa, Ontario. ... Gargantua and Pantagruel is a connected series of five books written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. ... Pecos Bill is a mythical American cowboy, immortalized in numerous tall tales. ... Iron John is a fairy tale found in the collections of the Brothers Grimm about a wild man and a prince. ... John Henry was a steel driving man. ... Mike Fink, called king of the keelboaters, (1770(?) - 1823) was a semi-legendary brawler and river-boatman who exemplified the tough and hard-drinking men who ran barges up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. ... Statue of Hiawatha carrying Minnehaha (based on Longfellows story) Hiawatha (also known as Ayenwatha or Ha-yo-went-ha) who lived around 1550, was variously a leader of the Onondaga and Mohawk nations of Native Americans. ... Fionn mac Cumhail (earlier Finn or Find mac Cumail or mac Umaill, pronounced roughly Finn mac Cool) was a legendary hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, also known in Scotland and the Isle of Man. ...

External links

  • Paul Bunyan Catalog. Roadside America. Roadside statues and other tributes to the Great Tree-Biter, Paul Bunyan
  • The Story of Paul Bunyan
  • The Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum and re-created logging camp.
  • Folklore History of the Paul Bunyan Legend Paul Bunyan: How A Terrible Timber Feller Became A Legend, book tracing the origin and how the Paul Bunyan legends were created
  • The Straight Dope: Is Paul Bunyan a fraud? Describes the links between the Bunyan legend and the Red River Lumber Company.


Gartenberg, Max. "Paul Bunyan and Little John", Journal of American Folklore, volume 62, 1949.

Maltin, Leonard, "Of Mice and Magic - the History of American Animation", Plume Books, Revised edition, May, 1990

Bélanger, Georges, "La collection Les Vieux m'ont conté du père Germain Lemieux, s.j." Francophonies d'Amérique, Ottawa. Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa, no. 1, 1991, pages 35-42

Germain, Georges-Hébert, "Adventurers in the New World: The Saga of the Coureurs des Bois", Libre-Expression, Montréal, 2003



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