Beary Harbour/ Beary River

The trees in the forest weren't the only thing that was daunting for the first settlers; what the forest contained likely scared them as well. There were many species reported in the early days that are no longer present on the Island, and the bear is easily the most legendary. Bears were yet another unfamiliar thing to contend with; most had probably never seen anything like them (perhaps the closest thing would be an English badger!), and they represented yet another threat in an already threatening landscape. We now know that bears generally have very little interest in hurting people, but unfortunately for the black bears of PEI, the settlers still hunted them voraciously. Settlers didn’t generally idealize the natural world; in fact quite often, they felt a duty to conquer it. There are many old local bear tales and references; we know that the French called Murray Harbour “Bear Harbour”, and that one Gaelic bard referred to “… Fear of being killed by wild beasts in the forests..” around Murray Harbour in the 1840’s.40. In 1853, a missionary with the Bible Christian Church named Jacob Gale concluded a letter to a friend with:


P.S. Three Bears have been killed in Murray Harbour this week, a short distance from our house. The Indians killed one of them. I suppose they will make fine pies of it, for the Indians eat Bear’s flesh.41.


Although the bears are interesting, another thing that's compelling about that short quote is that it was dated December 16th, indicating that some Mi'kmaw people were around Murray Harbour during the winter. Maybe they weren't just around in the summertime after all! Anyhow, it seems that bears in the area continued to be zealously hunted, as was illustrated when “about the last one” was killed with pitchforks between a couple of local farms sometime before 1882.42.

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