Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
Paul Bunyan Day is always on February 12. Why?
Because according to the people of Bangor, Maine, Paul Bunyan was born there on February 12, 1834. Link Now, I realize that there are many other areas of the United States who have "Paul Bunyan Days" celebrations such as those in Michigan, Minnesota, Portland and California. But, a town's celebration date doesn't necessarily mean that is the real birthday of Paul Bunyan or Paul Bunyan Day.
I also realize, being a Minnesota native, that the people of Minnesota feel that Paul Bunyan originated in Bemidji, Minnesota. Although, I've never heard of a birth date for him (as of yet.) Brainerd, Minnesota has a Paul Bunyan theme park. It is now called Paul Bunyan Land, but it was originally Paul Bunyan Center which began in 1950. It is believed to be the oldest and first amusement park with the Paul Bunyan theme. However, there are many amusement parks across the country with Paul Bunyan statues. Perhaps Minnesota was the first state to publicly bring Paul Bunyan some big recognition? But, ol' Paul is everywhere in Minnesota, as well as in the US. Here are some places I've spotted him:
(Left) On July 11, 2014, I visited Bemidji, MN and here's a photo of me sitting at their Paul Bunyan statue.
(Right) On September 15, 2019 I visited Chisholm, MN and they have Paul Bunyan's Marble. They also had their version of Paul Bunyan at their Museum of Mining.
So.... maybe he wasn't born in Minnesota, but apparently he died here. In Kelliher, MN, Paul Bunyan's grave is located in Paul Bunyan Memorial Park.
Was he a real guy? Some say that Paul Bunyan is based on a French-Canadian timber man named Fabian "Joe" Fournier (aka Saginaw Joe by some) who was born in Quebec, Canada in 1845. He moved to the Saginaw, Michigan area after the Civil War and was hired as a foreman (aka boss logger) of a logging crew. Since he was a large guy and pretty strong, and was also good with an axe, he was soon called the top "feller" in the woods.
Another version is that because "Bunyan" sounds like the French-Canadian slang word "Bonyenne" which translated into English means "Good Grief!" This exclamation would often be said if you heard something extraordinary. And, it is rumored that way back during the Papineau Rebellion of 1837 the French Canadians created Paul Bunyan (pronounced the same way as bonyenne) tales as a way to keep their spirits up and be entertained as they fought against the British colonial government. As you know, stories get spread between people, but in doing so, they don't get retold accurately. So, as time went on, stories got more exaggerated to keep the entertainment up; or, as a way to compete amongst each other for who could be the most creative in telling a Paul Bunyan tale.
When did they get written down? The first known publications of Paul Bunyan tales were in 1910 by James MacGillivray. Years later, a man by the name of W.B. Laughhead, published these lumberjack tales in 1916 for promotional logging reasons and they grew in popularity far beyond just the lumbering trade.
Michigan claims Paul Bunyan began there because they (1) Have the first known publications about Paul Bunyan by James MacGillivray; and (2) because they are the first to actually have a Paul Bunyan observance activity in honor of him. The first known celebrations of Paul Bunyan Day date back to 1938, with the first Paul Bunyan Dance at the Saline Valley Farms, with a small group of foresters. As the popularity grew, the dance changed from square dance to waltzes, jitterbugs and so on. Although most of these dances were held in February, on November 20, 1943 at the University of Michigan they held a formal dance in the Michigan Union Ballroom, with a cider bar (no alcohol!). But, they also had a sawing contest with male and female partners as well. This event was very popular and attracted up to 100 couples. The winner received a grand prize of two U.S. War Bonds! Other Paul Bunyan dances featured square dancing and jug bands. The dances died off for a while. But, have been revised by the School of Natural Resources, University of Michigan off and on.
Here's a link to a You Tube Disney video of the animation that plays the Paul Bunyan song: Paul Bunyan
So, how much do you know about Paul Bunyan? Here's a trivia test that we created to see if you remember all the tall tales told about him.
(Note: Please don't steal this and put it on another site or blog. )
All answers are
embedded in the trees (after all he was a lumberjack).
Just place your cursor over the and the answer will appear.
This is not
Note: If you have blocked pop-ups, you might not see the answers.
1. Which of the Great Lakes did Paul Bunyan dig out so it could be a watering hole for his ox?
(a) Lake Superior
(b) Lake Huron
(c) Lake Erie
(d) Lake Michigan
2. When Paul Bunyan was born, some say it took 3 of these birds to delivery him. Some say 7, some say 9 and the tale gets bigger and bigger. What kind of bird are we talking about?
3. The name of Paul Bunyan's blue ox is what?
4. Babe the ox is blue because?
(a) Paul found him in
the snow and he was blue with being cold.
(b) Paul spilt paint all over him.
(c) Paul spilt blueberries on him.
(d) None of the above. He's just blue.
5. Which mountain is
said to be the result of Paul Bunyan piling stones on his campfire to put it
(Note: Smokey Bear would be so happy to know this!)
(a) Mt. Rainier
(b) Mt. Olympus
(c) Mt. Hood
(d) Mt. Bigelow
6. Which canyon in the United States is said to have been created by Paul and Babe digging it out?
(a) Grand Canyon
(b) Hells Canyon
(c) Bryce Canyon
(d) Palo Duro Canyon
7. Paul's lungs were so strong, it is said that he could empty an entire pond of what with just one yell?
(c) Dragon Flies
(d) Lilly Pads
8. When he was a baby, how many cows did it take to keep his baby bottle filled?
(d) A whole herd
9. How many bowls of porridge did Paul eat before he was satisfied?
10. When Paul was a baby, it is said that he chewed on what when he was teething?
(a) Huge Tree Stumps
(b) Barn Roofs
(c) Huge Poles
(d) Small ships in Bar Harbor
11. Babe the Ox grew up to be big too just like Paul. It is said that he was how many ax handles wide?
12. How did the Mississippi river get formed?
(a) Paul Bunyan slipped on a big frozen Minnesota lake and slide all the way down on his butt to the Gulf of Mexico, creating the Mississippi River.
(b) Babe had a plow attached to him and was said to have been frightened by a bee and ran off digging the Mississippi as he did.
(c) Babe hauled the logging camp's water wagon. One day it sprang a leak and created Lake Itasca in Minnesota. The overflow trickled on down to New Orleans, creating the Mississippi River.
(d) Paul Bunyan could drink 100 kegs of beer. One day his wife got angry at him being drunk and dumped out all the kegs, which created the Mississippi River.
13. What is the name of Paul Bunyan's girlfriend and later on his wife?
14. What was Babe the Ox's main responsibility at the lumbering camps?
(a) Pulling the kinks out of
crooked logging roads.
(b) Stomping in the rivers to create waves to keep the logs moving.
(c) Leveling the hills by digging them out with his hooves to make lumbering easier.
(d) Using his horns like a peavey to help break up log jams.
15. Every time Paul Bunyan sneezed, what happened?
(a) All the needles
were stripped off the pine trees.
(b) He blew the roof off the bunkhouse.
(c) The birds were blown into the next county.
(d) Ewww! You just don't wanna know.
16. One winter in Minnesota, it was so cold, it was called "The Year of Two Winters." During this time, people in Bemidji, MN had their words freeze in mid-air. So, come springtime, the words finally thawed out. And, conversations could be heard as far away as what city?
(a) Duluth, MN
(b) Superior, WI
(c) Detroit, MI
(d) Chicago, IL
17. The name of Paul Bunyan's dog is what?
18. Babe the Ox was hungry. Just as a snack, he could eat 30 bales of hay (wire and all) in one sitting. So, how many men did it take with picaroons to pick the wire out of his teeth?
19. It is said that Paul Bunyan's footprints created all the lakes in Minnesota. What other bodies of water did Paul Bunyan create?
(a) Pudget Sound
(b) The Great Lakes
(c) Hood's Canal
(d) All of these
20. When Paul Bunyan was 4 weeks old, he rolled around so much that he destroyed how many square miles of standing timber?
21. A floating cradle was built for Paul when he was a baby. It was put in the Bay of Fundy and when he rocked it created a tide how high (which washed several villages away)?
(a) 30 feet
(b) 60 feet
(c) 75 feet
(d) 100 feet
22. Paul and his dog, Elmer, were hunting deer one day. They did get the buck. But, unfortunately Elmer died in the hunt of a heart attack. Now Paul had two carcasses: Deer and Dog. He didn't know what to do with all the meat. Then he got offered $1 million dollars for all this meat by which company?
(a) Oscar Mayer
(c) Hebrew National
(d) Ball Park
23. Paul Bunyan and the rest of the lumberjacks loved their pancakes. But a big skillet was needed. How did this skillet get greased before the pancakes could be cooked on it?
(a) Paul shook 30 cows so
that they'd produce butter to put in the pan.
(b) Paul squeezed 30 pigs for bacon fat.
(c) Paul got skaters to tie slabs of bacon on their skates and skate around the pan to grease it.
(d) None of the above. Paul Bunyan was healthy and ate fat free!
24. Every year, the winner of the college football game between Minnesota and Wisconsin gets what of Paul Bunyans?
(a) A bronze-plated peavey
(b) An Axe
(c) A big boot
(d) A carved log
25. Paul Bunyan used what to comb his beard?
(a) A pine tree
(b) 20 Beavers
(c) 5 pitch forks
(d) 1 mile of barb wire wound up in a ball
Paul Bunayn Products!
As of July 2014, a
whole new group of fun Paul Bunyan products are now available.
Check them out!
Return to February Holidays and Observances.
Sources of Information:
"America Celebrates" by Hennig Cohen and Tristram
Visible Ink Press, Detroit, Michigan © 1991
Wikipedia - Paul Bunyan
Thinkquest.org - American Heroes
Paul Bunyan Fine Art
Ancestry.com - The Truth About Folk Heroes
American Folklore.net - Michigan
American Folklore.net- Minnesota