The True Story of the Paul Bunyan Legend

Wayne Chamberlain, Pequot Lakes, MN

The exact truth about the birth of the legendary logging tales of Paul Bunyan is clouded in the mist of history and may never be known.

The True Story of the Paul Bunyan Legend
by Wayne Chamberlain, 2008
(photo of Wayne Chamberlain, 2006)

There are those who believe the tales are an exaggerated congregation of actual deeds of ordinary loggers. Some content that Paul Bunyan and his tales are nothing more than the results of the over active imaginations of some Maine or Michigan loggers The state of Maine even claims to be the birthplace of Paul and can produce a ambiguous Birth Certificate to prove it.

Wayne Chamberlain, historian, author of this article, and PBSBA Board member since 2008.But it is Canada that may hold the key to the true birth of the Paul Bunyan Legends. The legend may have started in 1837 during Canada's Papineau Rebellion. In the Two Mountain region in St. Eustache, Canada, the local French Canadians revolted against their new ruler, the Queen of England. Many local loggers joined the cause refusing to surrender to the English troops sent to squash the rebellion.

The loggers armed themselves with axes, mattocks and large wooden forks they had steam bent into hooks. Among the loggers was a bellicose, bearded, mountain of a man named Paul Bunyon. Bellowing like thunder, with a huge wooden fork in one hand and a mattock in the other, this giant bull of a logger raged wildly among the Queens Troops. Devastation and slaughter lay abundantly in his wake.

Paul survived the rebellion and was highly respected among the loggers of the region for his deeds in battle. He went on to own at least one lumber camp. (Read more...)