Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Beavergate and the Visualization of Goals – May 20, 2012

CFN – It’s been really nice to witness first hand the power of collective action bringing forward an issue affecting the common good. I am referring to the recent series of events that led to “Beavergate,” as it now affectionately called. This tongue-in-cheek reference to a situation that changed the course of history in the United States during Nixon’s presidency, where he was shown to have been corrupt, has emerged as a turning point in Cornwall’s timeline.


The reason I say this is that there is nothing more exciting to watch than citizens gathering and expressing a need to be heard, no matter what the issue. This collective power is known as the spirit of unity. Unity is the spiritual characteristic that is essential in order to create a better world.


Is it possible that one of the reasons that citizens do not vote is that our political system is based on a divisive model and uses force to achieve its aims? Unification and divisiveness are opposing forces. If we want to create the Cornwall and S D and G that we envision we will have to consider how to organize in a unifying manner and use our power for the collective good. Beavergate was an excellent example of the use of the power of unity in order to protect an ecosystem.

For the past 25 years, or longer, the City of Cornwall has trapped beaver populations in Guindon Park. Five years ago one citizen, Wyatt Walsh, started complaining about this practice. This year the City hired a trapper who set several Conibears, or body gripping traps with the mission to kill a family beavers that had taken up residence in the park. The City succeeded in its mission.

Several weeks ago the issue hit the headlines of CFN and became a matter of interest to several people and one in particular took the lead in order to get a resolution to the problem. This woman’s name is Rebecca Sorrel. I met her on Facebook through the Cornwall, Ontario page and became her friend. I tracked the story and took a personal interest because of my love for animals in general and my concern for the human impacts on the environment in particular.


We are re-engineering the area and it concerns me that there does not seem to be a comprehensive vision what we want to end up with. When our great-great- grandchildren are born. what will they be looking at in terms of their environment: concrete or green spaces?

Rebecca has such a vision which she shared with me  in a social setting. I got the distinct impression that I was speaking to a woman of great capacity who is shaping up to be a community leader on a mission. The virtue that stands out the most powerfully from Rebecca is her humility. She told me over and over again that she is a nobody! Isn’t that incredible? How many of us would introduce ourselves and tell the other person that we are a nobody?


She then proceeded to tell me that the only reason she stood up for the beavers was that she wanted to be the mother her daughter Calysta thought she was. I thought that this motivation is a sign of an extraordinary individual because Rebecca knows that Calysta is already a very powerful woman. She does not look at her as a child. After all we are raising adults, not children.

Rebecca is using a powerful spiritual principle in her maternal role. She begins with the end in mind. She has a vision and so she works backwards to make sure that the vision is realized. As a result, when Calysta is an adult she will be telling the world that she did all these great things because she had a mother who showed her the way. That is such a wonderful affirmation of the power of love, dedication and truthfulness – so much more powerful than the opposing ideology which rules through force, aggression, oppression and other destructive means. We need to bring balance into this world.

Here’s a song dedicated to the citizens who support Beavergate from Tina Turner, a Canadian icon and woman of substance:

You can reach me at spiritmatters9@gmail.com

 Shirley Barr lives and works in Cornwall Ontario since May 2010 and is a member of the Baha’i community.

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

Walsh Pressure Cleaning


  1. Great work Rebecca & I don’t want to diminish that fact;however, I find it rather SAD as a community & country we are more concerned about beavers then the language discrimination that has been going on for the last 40 years…
    I hope that this coming Saturday May 26 1 pm @ CCH-Protest Rally, people will stand-up for their rights to work in our community & ultimately the right of their kids & grandkids!
    Equality for All!!!!!

  2. Much as we all have been interested in Beavergate and respect the leadership taken by Ms. Sorrel, it’s a little bit Disney-ish and premature (for me) to be taking this story the heights of romanticism. On a practical level, there was an issue of public safety (because of the traps) as well as unnecessary cruelty. Fact is, the animals may still have to be removed by some other means if there is any plausible risk of serious flooding or some other catastrophic event. This is one side of the story that is essential for us to understand.

    In addition, while council may have made a huge and embarrassing political blunder (in ignoring the issue) they are hardly criminals. In fact, by turning this into a romantic story means you’re casting one group as “the good” and others as “the bad.” Is this not the ultimate in divisiveness, and the whole point of your thesis?

    Bottom line it is just a big stupid mess. “Unity” on this issue would probably not been possible without technology – meaning the Internet and the existence of CFN.

    Hmmm, wasn’t there an opinion piece recently telling us about the evils of technology?

  3. @ Concerned Citizen, I see the higher/global matter that the Beavergate people are speaking to………CO-EXISTENCE. Respect, tolerance and genuine concern for all. Whether that be peoples, animals or habitats. I see the core value at work here is “Love for all life”. They are not rating this issue on a scale speaking to level of importance, they are simply rallying around an issue that is of concern which they have chosen to address at this moment in time.

  4. Milner-I totally agree with you.Animals deserve human respect as we are invading their living space.All animals play a role in our very own existence…The question is WHY are people more inclined to support a protest involving “beavers & “politically correct” & not jumping on the band wagon in droves because of ethnic cleansing in our very own community??
    Is the issue of discrimination, due to language, too “taboo” for us?????

  5. Thank you Shirley for such an inspirational article responding on behalf to Beavergate and it’s accomplishment. With devotion and a determination to reach out too and ask our City of Cornwall to listen to a young women speak up and be heard, it is truly a harmonious victory for all that supported and stood beside her. This is the Unity that each of them shared and the stand they too took with Rebecca, that was United.Rebecca is a woman of five generation’s and has been taught through each to Educate, Embrace and Endure her life. True to my word I am proud of my daughter and the mother that she has become. Your column which is called Spirit Matter’s was never more sincere to it’s meaning as it was today for me. Spirit.The vital source in human’s…Soul…Courage…Vigor… However saddened I am that there are those who look past the meaning of this article and the presidence it stood for and look upon it as away to, if I may, change the subject so as to draw attention to another demonstration or too attempt to humilate one’s person. Stand up for all you believe in and God’s people will hear your voice. We as Canadian’s have the power to all be who we wan’t in ourselves. Once more like myself I am greatfull that you recognised the spirit of my child and that you felt the need to share it..May God Bless You and Your Spirit… Sincerelly Sherry Smith.

  6. These beaver should be left alone in no way should they be removed and set free in another area outside the city limits where they can do untold damage to private property or drainage ditches if they need to be controled if anything they should be shipped several hundred miles up north to areas where there is no humans that can be effected this could be arranged throught conservation dept with the province . I sure all the supporters would have no problems incuring the cost through increased taxes for humane trapping and also proper humane shipment probaly by air etc.

    The same trapper i am sure would have no problem changing traps as long as the city covered all costs of interimin lodging in fact the the city could build the temporary living facility until transport could be arranged up north . Maybe even employ volunteers to look after feeding and cleaning and care .

    I am sure every one would agree the answer here is not just dumping these creatures in nearby areas where they migrate to neigbouring areas is a fair thing to do as the end result will be trapping.

    the biggest danger is if hydro decided that the ground water is not being managed by the cityand it endanger the dikes as suggested , Hydro it might terminate any land aggreements and retake the park area and restrict its use to the public. Never say never !!!!

  7. @ Marc- I don’t believe in fairy tales, so let’s clear the air on the whole divisiveness point you have brought forward. Unity is completely different from uniformity. Unity calibrates at a much higher level (reference: Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins) than uniformity, therefore making it a stronger power. Unity implies a process of group reflection, using a decision making model based on consultation and action, the three points being used in order to advance any particular issue. Unity is based on ethics and scientific principles. Uniformity, in comparison, is making decisions based on tradition, unquestioned beliefs and the use of force in order to brainwash a population or keep it sub-servient. I am not into the latter and do not favour uniformity, it smacks of congregational thinking. Definitely no Disney here, but thanks for your comment.

  8. Beavergate? I can see how it all came together. I congratulate you in your efforts to come up with something like that.

    The spirit of unity has come into play many times before. In solving our most recent problems, in the other hand (it seems to me) that we are looking for a leader to guide us. When we should be guided by our hearts. Animals, like the beaver, are symbols of our need to feel free.

    When I hold a nickel in my hand I think of Canada. When I see a trap poised to kill, I think of a coin with no face value, and no future for a better togetherness.
    This is not how I want my kids to remember their younger days.

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