Government of Ontario

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Ministry of Government and Consumer Services




Bears: Majestic Creatures banner

What comes to mind when you think about bears?

Symbolic beings. Noble beasts. Dangerous nuisances. Big game animals. Cute, cuddly creatures. Clowns of the woods. No matter how you understand bears, these differing views reflect how we see ourselves within the natural world.

Ontario Department of Lands and Forests
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Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Campsite cleanup poster, [ca. 1960s]
Archives of Ontario poster collection
C 233-1-1-0-2197
Archives of Ontario, I0048304

Poster of General Idea Study for Ursa Major & Taurus
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Poster of General Idea Study for Ursa Major & Taurus: Pavilion Fragments from the Starry Vault, 1983
Produced by Toronto Stock Exchange
Government of Ontario Art Collection, AC800006-RP

Black bear leaving garbage container, Algonquin Park, July 14, 1963
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Black bear leaving garbage container,
Algonquin Park, July 14, 1963
Ministry of Natural Resources Photo Library collection, 
RG 1-448-1,
Archives of Ontario, I0054223

This poster symbolizes how government policies reflect and respond to changing ways of understanding animals. 

In 1961, the Department of Lands and Forests required residents to purchase a license to hunt black bears—a policy that defined the species as a big game animal. This contrasted with the previous two decades, when Ontarians had received a small bounty for an animal that many farmers and others saw as a pest or nuisance.  

Bears Icon

Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Hunting Notice to Non-Resident Hunters
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Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Hunting Notice to Non-Resident Hunters, [ca. 1962]
Archives of Ontario poster collection
C 233-1-1-0-2204
Archives of Ontario, I0074002

Ministry of Natural Resources, 1972-1973 Average Black Bear Catch Per Trapper
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Ministry of Natural Resources, 1972-1973 Average Black Bear Catch Per Trapper, [ca. 1974]
Registered trapline and species harvest maps
RG 1-631
Archives of Ontario, I0054251

W.A. Creighton, Fish and Wildlife
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W.A. Creighton, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Department of Lands and Forests, Spring Bear Hunt in Ontario, 1964-1966, 1966
Wildlife Branch Wildlife Program Files
RG 1-443
Archives of Ontario, I0073994

Along with the more common black bear, Ontario is also home to the polar bear—one of the largest mammals of the north. Our collections include many aerial photos created by Department of Lands and Forests staff as they calculated polar bear populations.

Fishes Icon

Adult polar bear (probably male
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Adult polar bear (probably male), East Pen Island, Hudson Bay, September 11, 1964
Ministry of Natural Resources Photo Library collection
RG 1-448-1
Archives of Ontario, I0054226


Ontario Department of Lands and Forests
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Polar bear tracks, near Hudson Bay coast, 1955
John Macfie fonds
C 330-2-0-0-16
Archives of Ontario, I0000022

Ontario Department of Lands and Forests
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Polar bear, Metro Toronto Zoo, February 11, 1976
Ministry of Natural Resources Photo Library collection
RG 1-448-1
Archives of Ontario, I0054225


Meet Bee Bee! This young cub of the Minesing animal compound was a big hit when it visited schools to teach students about conservation.

Here, student Connie Priest holds Bee Bee while the cub is fed by teacher Islay Scott.

Fishes Icon

Black bear cub being fed from bottle at Minesing Central School
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Black bear cub being fed from bottle at Minesing Central School, Grade 3, April 22, 1970
Ministry of Natural Resources Photo Library collection
RG 1-448-1
Archives of Ontario, I0054250






Moscow Bears on Ice, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
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Moscow Bears on Ice, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, November 1970
Julien LeBourdais fonds
C 193-3
Archives of Ontario, I0048252

Eaton’s, How Punkinhead Came to Toyland, 1953
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Eaton’s, How Punkinhead Came to Toyland, 1953
T. Eaton Co. fonds
F 229-162-0-538
Archives of Ontario, I0073991

Teachings from the Six Nations of the Grand River

Bears play a central role in many narratives of the Six Nations of the Grand River, shaping Haudenosaunee spiritual beliefs and illustrating their deep-rooted connections to the natural world.

Deyohahá:ge: The Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic is collecting these stories as a way of preserving and nurturing Indigenous knowledge and wisdom.

Learn about two stories passed on to us from the Centre: “The Seven Brothers” and “How Bear Lost His Tail.”


The Seven Brothers

How Bear Lost His Tail


English version


English version


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