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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.


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