The Bear references


"...I think it was Algonquin Park
It was so cold and winter dark
A promised hibernation high
Took me across the great black plate of ice"

"...Now I'm the Islander"

"The Bear" is thought to be inspired by the true story of an Algonquin Park Black Bear who, during an early winter freeze, crossed over to an island hibernation spot. The following summer, campers were shocked to find a bear on what was supposed to be a deserted island.

Algonquin is of course the best known and oldest of Canada's nature preserves, and is Ontario's most visited provincial park. It is mentioned in Lake Fever and was the adopted home of Three Pistols star Tom Thompson. There are believed to be roughly 2000 Black Bears in Algonquin Park today.

   "But with my belly full I intended to get something done"

Hip Head Shane Kroeker adds:

"Alive is a 1993 film by director Frank Marshall and producer Kathleen Kennedy. It is based upon Piers Paul Read's acclaimed 1974 book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors (which itself was based upon interviews with survivors of the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 on October 13, 1972).

The film tells the story of a Uruguayan rugby team (who were alumni of Stella Maris College)and their friends and family who were involved in the aircraft crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 which crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972.

After great debate, the remaining passengers decide to eat the flesh of their dead companions in order to survive. With protein in their bellies finally, a team of explorers sets off to search for the tail of the plane in hopes of finding the batteries for the transistor radio.

At the point of cannibalization, the rugby team captain declares: "With meat in my belly, I intend to get something done."

Gord must have seen the movie, and enjoyed this epic line enough to blend it into a song about the islander."

Downie can be heard reciting the line, long before the song was released, during the Hip's set at Woodstock '99.

Hip Head Shannon Moore adds:

I'm a big fan of your site, and clearly the Hip, and I'm wondering if you're accepting updates?

"The Bear" is one of my favourite Hip songs, partially because it creeps me out. Your exhibit on the song touches on what I think is the beginning - but not the full - story of what I believe inspired the tune.

While in an environmental issues class at Fleming College in Lindsay, ON years ago, our teacher gave us an article to read and discuss. It was about the last (fatal?) bear attack in Algonquin Provincial Park, which happened in October 1991 and left a young couple from Toronto actively hunted for food by a black bear. I can't remember what article we read in class, but this one gives just as much information.

I remember the article striking me because officers and biologists alike both stated that the behaviour of this black bear was beyond irregular. This quote from the article above definitely sends chills up the spine! = "Raymond Jakubauskas and Carole Frehe, both of Toronto, were camping on Bates Island in the middle of Lake Opeongo when they were attacked by a young male black bear, which was found guarding their half-eaten remains several days later."

"I was first attracted by your scent
Your heart must be a caramelized onion
By the time I saw your flame
It was all over for you and whashisname." - the bear is clearly stalking the couple

Though the timing seems off - Gord makes it sound like the couple was camping in the spring -
he could have been merging stories there.

Thank you for your hard work! I love the site, and have referenced it many a time!

Take care,