Two fishermen found a hibernating
bear, which they killed with an ax. According to local folklore,
this is how Bear Island eventually got its name. Illustration
by Ron White.
In the very early days, two young men left Meredith Bay
and started across the ice on a fishing trip. Their equipment
included a jackknife and an ax.The two fishermen made their
way to the Bear Island shore, where they found a bear hibernating.
One of the young men used fishline to fasten his knife to
the end of a long pole. He prodded the bear until he was
aroused enough to come out of the cave. At that moment the
second youth killed him with a blow from the ax. It was
a long, hard trip back across the ice to Meredith Bay dragging
the bear on poles. They didn't reach home until after dark.
In the morning, the little girl of the family woke up and
saw the bearskin hanging from the rafters. Frightened, she
pulled the bedclothes over her head. Again she looked and
again she covered her head. She was persuaded to look again
only after someone told her not to be frightened, it was
only her new pair of shoes. She had never had a pair of
shoes and excitement quickly replaced her fear. According
to the great granddaughter of that little girl, it was this
bear that gave Bear Island its name.