Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
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, Campsite cleanup poster, [ca. 1960s]
Archives of Ontario poster collection
Archives of Ontario, I0048304
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
Ministry of Natural Resources Photo Library collection,
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.
Ministry of Natural Resources, 1972-1973 Average Black Bear Catch Per Trapper, [ca. 1974]
Registered trapline and species harvest maps
Archives of Ontario, I0054251
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
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.
Polar bear, Metro Toronto Zoo, February 11, 1976
Ministry of Natural Resources Photo Library collection
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.
Eaton’s, How Punkinhead Came to Toyland, 1953
T. Eaton Co. fonds
Archives of Ontario, I0073991
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.”