Friday, September 9, 2011
Legendary White Squirrel of Trinity-Bellwoods
Despite the opinion of some people around here (i.e. this apartment) there's a colony of white squirrels in Toronto's Trinity-Bellwood Park! I know. I've seen them, This is a portrait of one of them, climbing head-down a maple tree, along with the words "Legendary White Squirrel of Trinity-Bellwoods", which I carved in reverse, in lino, and printed in dark, silver-bronze, with redish-pink eyes, on Japanese kozo (or mulberry paper). Each print is 8.5 inches (21.6 cm) wide and 14 inches (35.6 cm) tall. It's sort of become a running joke to question the reality of the white squirrels of Trinity-Bellwoods, but they are well documented. You can google it. They even have a street, White Squirrel Way, and a café named after them.
The lettering (fantastical "Legendary", outlined white "White Squirrel" with large bushy-tail like swirls, and the more formal and stylized "Trinity-Bellwoods") reflects the nature of the words.
There are two ways in which squirrels end up white instead of grey, black or brown. They may be albino squirrels, or they may have a rare white fur coloration known as leucism (due to a recessive gene). My local squirrels seem to have red eyes, so I think they are albino. I think it is their rareity which makes them so fascinating to people. These squirrels have fans, like other pockets of white squirrels in other places.
I'll let you, gentle reader, in on a secret. I've been thinking about the myths and legends of Canada, in a more general sense. You know, like Ogopogo and Cadborosaurus, and Sasquatch, the loup-garou of Trois-Rivières or the ghost of Mackenzie King's dog. Good suggestions for additions to this list will be rewarded.