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Paul Bunyan

Updated on January 5, 2021

Larger Than Life Folklore Hero

As with many mythical heroes, the birth of this hero is a trip into the fantastical, the unbelievable.

Paul Bunyan is said to have been delivered to his parents via stork! Actually a normal baby would be delivered by a (one) stork, however, the grand nature of Paul Bunyan required a delivery crew of no less than 3 storks!

It is said that as a toddler, when little Paul Bunyan was playing, his clapping would knock the windows out of the house. His hearty laughter did the same. His parents sure must have suffered a lot of window replacements.

Other claims:

  • When Paul Bunyan was yet an infant, he could holler so loud as to scare all the fish out of nearby streams and rivers
  • Paul's parents had to milk two dozen cows per day to keep Paul's bottle full as an infant
  • When baby Paul was hungry, his stomach conveniently notified his parents - the growling of his little tummy was actually audible, so his parents never had to guess about when Paul was hungry...his stomach rumbling was so audible, in fact, that it would shake the house.
  • When Paul would scream for his breakfast, he would deafen all the nearby frogs, so his parents and villagers had to check to see that the frogs' earmuffs were on every morning.
  • Paul's mother had to feed him ten barrels of porridge every morning to keep his gut from rumbling and shaking the house down.
  • Paul grew at an alarming and amazing rate, fitting into his father's clothing mere weeks after birth.
  • There are more...

Amateur Film: "Paul Bunyan and The Lost Shoe." This is a well done video utilizing Paul Bunyan Lore and The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Paul problem solves i

Where was Paul Bunyan From

If you would like to know where Paul Bunyan was originally from...ask around.

You'll get varied answers, depending on who you ask!

Paul Bunyan is from Maine, USA

Paul Bunyan is also from Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin!

BUT REALLY (don't laugh)

Paul Bunyan is Canadian! (No joking!)

Fabian Fournier

a.k.a. Fabian "Joe" Fournier was born in Quebec, Canada, sometime around 1845. He was a timberman most often mentioned as being the 'real person' behind the persona of a mythic "Paul Bunyan."

The reason "Paul Bunyan" is so often said to be an American folk hero - versus being a Canadian folk hero is, in part, because the timberman behind the Paul Bunyan persona (the real man, Fournier) WORKED primarily in the USA, around the Michigan area, which - in the 1800's - was dense logging terrain. Wages for working in the Michigan USA area were much higher than in Canadian logging regions at the time. Fournier relocated to the US and became a logging operation foreman - one of the most successful in the history of both Canadian and American logging.

Even authoritative voices and institutions in the Michigan area have often recognized the details surrounding National Folk Hero, Paul Bunyan, and have clarified in documents that Paul Bunyan stories originate from known timberman, Fabian "Joe Fournier."

Below is a link to a document from as recent as 2005. It is document No. 88, State of Michigan Journal of the House of Representatives 93rd Legislature Regular Session of 2005.

Look on page 2 - that's where the origin of Paul Bunyan is mentioned quite at length:

Document 88 State of Michigan [...] 93rd Legislature Regular Sesson, 2005

Basically, the authorities decided to recognize the birthplace of the LEGEND of Paul Bunyan as being located at Oscoda, Michigan...via author James MacGillivray - so it was at Oscoda, Michigan, U.S.A., that an author set the story of Paul Bunyan to paper...having used what was known of some characteristics, physical feats, and other background knowledge of French-Canadian timberman, Fabian Fournier, as a sort of character-sketch with which to build up the Legend of Paul Bunyan.

Fabian Fournier has also been called "Saginaw Joe."

Disney's 1958 Paul Bunyan (Cartoon Part 1 of 2)

The Art of Exaggeration!

If you want to tell tales about Paul Bunyan, this is one character you don't have to worry about getting 'all the facts' straight with. It is actually BETTER, if you forget a detail - to just make something up and MAKE SURE TO EXAGGERATE what you say about Paul Bunyan...

Surely, you can't make a mistake, when telling KIDS about Paul Bunyan if you just 'GO BIG' on all the details and keep making sure to build Paul up as "Larger Than Life."


Paul Bunyan was so big that:

  • They had to use wagon wheels as buttons on his clothes so he could keep his shirt on
  • A wagon was used as his cradle when he was an infant
  • When Paul got too big for his wagon-cradle, his father had to build a raft to use as a cradle
  • In his raft-cradle, when Paul rocked, he caused waves so big, he caused waves which overturned boats - nobody wanted to be on the water when it was Paul's naptime - in case he rolled over and rocked his cradle!

Here is an online website that has a "Tale of Paul Bunyan" book with nice illustrations online:

A Tall Tale: Paul Bunyan the Giant Lumberjack

This verson is a basic version of the Paul Bunyan details, however, there are so many Paul Bunyan 'adventures' - and the 'tale' still keeps growing as The Legend of Paul Bunyan is re-told - that "A Tall Tale" from the link above will just give you a well-rounded idea of a few happenings in the life of legend, Paul Bunyan.

Free to download at Project Gutenberg:

The Marvelous Exploits of Paul Bunyan by W.B. Laughead

Trust me - if you download and read the "Marvelous Exploits" and commit a few tall-tale events to memory, you'll please any kid who wants to hear a story on a rainy afternoon.

Disney's 1958 Paul Bunyan (Cartoon Part 2 of 2)

Fantastical Tale

Paul Bunyan is said to have been the cause of everything from the lakes around the Michigan area (impressions from Paul's gigantic footsteps, which filled with rainwater to produce the lakes), to fashioning a particular lake called, "Round Lake" (a more deliberate Paul Bunyan feat - whereby he and his men were rafting down the river but noticed they were going around and around and around - so Paul shovelled out the land in the middle, thus, "Round Lake" was made) and is even said to have been the one to invent the double-decker ice cream cone!

Double decker Ice Cream Cone:

Paul had a prize dairy cow named "Lucy." Lucy was very special and was PURPLE. Now, Lucy would always produce the finest dairy products for Paul in 'larger than life' abundance - so long as the grass she was fed was GREEN...

The winter months posed a problem for Paul and Lucy, so the clever lumberman fitted Lucy with green glasses during the winter, so that, to Lucy, the grass would still look green!

(I know, I know - go ahead and roll your eyes - but it's TRUE - it's a Paul Bunyan tale!)

Now, eventually, there were two of the coldest, harshest winters on record - but even Nature didn't interfere with Paul's life too much - or Paul's prized Lucy The Purple Cow. Lucy, in her green glasses still continued to produce dairy for Paul, however, during the coldest winters on records, her milk froze...her milk would freeze before it even hit the milk-pail.

Thus, with Lucy's frozen milk during the two coldest winters, Paul and Lucy had inadvertently invented ice cream - and when he was bored one day, he stacked the icecream up and made double-decker ice cream treats!

Lumber jack song (comedy)


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