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Topic – Who Was Paul Bunyan?

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Who Was Paul Bunyan?

Paul Bunyan is a famous folk tale character. But even imaginary characters have to come from somewhere. How did the tales about Paul Bunyan start?

Many people believe that the stories about Paul Bunyan started with French-Canadian lumberjacks in Québec in the 1800s. His original name was Paul Bonjean, or Bonyenne. As the stories were passed from camp to camp, and into English-speaking Canada and the United States, his name was changed to Bunyan.

The first written tale about Paul Bunyan appeared in 1906 in a Detroit, Michigan, newspaper. The author wrote it based on a tale he had heard in a logging camp. Many other tales followed, written by different people. Paul Bunyan was even featured in a logging company’s advertisements. In the 1920s, the stories began changing from tales about the hard life in logging camps to children’s stories. Paul Bunyan became even more popular when TV shows and movies were made about him.

Why is Paul Bunyan a folk hero? Maybe it is because he is a symbol of strength and hard work. But I think it is just because the tales are funny. Here are a few “facts” about Paul and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox.

  Paul so was large when he was born that five storks had to carry him to his parents.

  One day Paul was having trouble clearing trees along a crooked road. He tied a piece of rope to one end of the road and Babe to the other. Babe pulled with all his strength until the road became straight.

  Paul created the Grand Canyon by dragging a special logging tool on the ground.

  Paul chased all the whales out of the St. Lawrence River by trying to harness them to pull logs.

  Paul scooped out the Great Lakes to make drinking holes for Babe.

  Paul cut down all the trees in North and South Dakota to make farmland.


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