More About National Paul Bunyan Day 🪓

The character Paul Bunyan was brought to life by the stories lumberjacks from the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada told, way back in the 18th century. They were all told orally and no original written account exists in the world. Even the etymology of the name is unknown, but some people believe it is related to the Québécois expression ‘bon yenne!,’ which is an exclamation of surprise or astonishment. Logging bunkhouses continued with the tradition of telling Paul Bunyan stories for decades after that, embellishing it with more and more details to make this lumberjack larger than life. Along the way, he also gained a companion, a giant blue-colored ox called Babe the Blue Ox, who was said to be a gift from Paul’s fellow woodsmen, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Paul Bunyan’s story was first written down by a journalist, James MacGillivray. However, this character was popularized by freelance writer and adman William Laughead when he created an advertising campaign for a logging company using Paul Bunyan stories. Soon, this character’s myth and tales spread far and wide around the U.S. and Canada, and he began to feature in many other promotional campaigns for products, services, and cities. Even today, many U.S. cities in the north-central side claim the title of being Paul Bunyan’s official home. Statues were erected in various places — a 26 foot tall animated Paul Bunyan at an amusement park in Minnesota as well as a 49-foot tall statue of Bunyan and a 35-foot statue of Babe the Blue Ox in Klamath, California — to honor this folktale. Unlike most other folklore heroes, Paul Bunyan has an origin story. As the story goes, five storks were needed to carry this large newborn. As he became older, when he clapped his hands and laughed, windows shook and shattered. Another tale has him sawing the wooden legs off of his parents’ bed in the middle of the night — when he was only seven months old! Over the years, many theories about who Paul Bunyan is based on have been thought up and rejected. Some believe Bunyan was based on a French-Canadian logger named Fabian ‘Joe’ Fournier, who moved to Michigan after the American Civil War. He was strongly built with giant hands and was above six feet in height. Some time during this period, stories about Fournier merged with tales about a French-Canadian war hero named Bon Jean, and many believe Bunyan’s name comes from ‘Bon Jean’. Today, stories about Paul Bunyan have appeared in more than 1,000 books; and this character is renowned as one of the most popular and recognizable characters in American folklore.

Date & Time

June 28, 2022

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