||September 21, 2001
Canada's Mythical Mufferaw is a real part of Mattawa
Joe Montferrand (1802-1864) is one of Canada's most famous lumberjacks
and athletes, and as Joe Mufferaw, has recently become one of Canada's
He would marvel at the changes in the forest industry, as shown in the
Forestry Expo in Mattawa beginning today and extending through Saturday.
The Mattawa Chamber of Commerce and the Mattawa Forestry Committee for
Economic Development recognized his importance by commissioning a 16-foot
carved pine statue of him for their Explorer's Point. They are also arranging
to sell books and other items in Mattawa, celebrating his life. I will
have a booth at the Forestry Expo 2001 and will have some Mufferaw items
available. Drop by and say hello.
Joe was an outstanding athlete, shanty foreman, walking boss and timber
raft boss over several decades in the early square timber era.
Non-French speaking people had trouble with his name and pronounced
it phonetically, where it came out as Muffero, Muffera, and Mufferaw. The
latter name is the one used in his current new life as a folk hero.
Joe was a legitimate folk hero in his own time, and after a century
evolved into the mythical hero where writers began to tell exaggerated
tales about him. The stories were much like those children use is "lying
contests," where the wilder the tale the better.
Joe's true story was recorded in French in a biography by Benjamin Sulte
in 1975. Joan Finnegan, the well-known Ottawa Valley author, included a
chapter on him in her book Giants of the Ottawa Valley (1981) and mythologized
him in her book Look! The Land is Growing Giants (1983).
Several other people, including Donald MacKay in his book The Lumberjacks,
have written about Joe.
Joe was established permanently in Canadian folklore when Bernie Bedore
of Arnprior wrote three remarkable books on Joe Mufferaw's incredible adventures
as follows: Tall Tales of Joe Mufferaw (1979); : More Tall
Tales of Joe Mufferaw (1981); and Mythical Mufferaw (1994). (The last two
are avalibale online from the Past
Forward Company Store)
||The cover of the second Joe Mufferaw book by Bernie Bedore.
Stompin' Tom Connors added to Joe's fame with his song big Joe Mufferaw,
which appears on several of his CDs. Stompin' Tom's song-where he says,
"bug Joe Mufferaw paddled into Mattawa, all the way from Ottawa in just
one day, hey!"-was one of the things that prompted the organizations mentioned
above to commission the carving.
||Peter Cianfriani, the carver of the Joe Mufferaw statue,
with the model that is being reproduced as a 16-foot tall pine carving.
Peter Cianfriani, the sculptor, is currently completing the carving,
and it is expected to be mounted on its base in the near future. Some miniatures
of the carving are available.
The Bernie Bedore Mufferaw stories are remarkably creative and beautifully
I read some to my grandchildren recently and they enjoyed them immensely.
||The cover of the third Joe Mufferaw book by Bernie Bedore.
Bernie, who has written other books, poetry, and songs, has created
various Mufferaw characters who have become a part of Canadian folklore.
Bernie grew up around the old Central Hotel in Arnprior, which his parents
owned. It housed many old shantymen who were great storytellers, and many
of their stories improved in the telling.
Some of the Mufferaw narrators, such as Joe Beef and Johnny Coulogne,
are based on these old characters. They tell stories of Joe Mufferaw's
adventures with Broadaxe the Moose, Barrum the Frog, and Bucky the Beaver,
to name only a few of the characters in Mufferawland.
Congratulations to the people in Mattawa for making Joe come to life
there for the pleasure of local people and visitors to the area.
PS: The Joe Mufferand miniature carving by Peter Cianfarani, which was
the prize at my booth at the Mattawa Forestry Expo 2001, was won by Katy
Albrecht of Deep River, who is home schooled and turned nine the day she
got the prize. Congratulations Katy.
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