Beaver Dreams puppet show gnaws at Nanaimo Fringe Festival

Beaver Dreams runs from Aug. 11-19 at the conference centre

Beaver Dreams runs at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre from Aug. 11-19. (Photo submitted)

Maggie Winston remembers spending her summers at the family cottage on a lake in Laurentians in Quebec.

She also remembers her family having to deal with the year-round neighbours – a bunch of determined beavers.

“Over the years of having our cottage we’ve had this ongoing battle with the beavers to just maintain the level of the lake,” Winston said. “We would have to break the beaver dams about once in a week in the summer so that the water levels go down so we can access the our dock.”

It didn’t matter how many times the family would knock down the dams, the beavers would build it right back up. It was a cycle that has continued for as long as Winston can recall.

“The beaver would build up the dam again and the water levels would rise again,” she said.

Her family’s constant struggle with the beavers at their Quebec cottage over the years has become the basis for an award-winning puppet show created by Winston called Beaver Dreams, part of the Nanaimo Fringe Festival.

Beaver Dreams tells the story about the history of beavers and how human development has threatened their natural way of living in Laurentians by combining physical comedy, puppetry, animation and storytelling into a 30-minute show and is performed by Winston and Mika Laulainen.

“It’s really like a family show,” Winston said. “It basically tells the history of this specific place, but from the beaver’s perspective. There is hardly any dialogue in it, it is mostly physical theatre, puppetry and sound design.”

Winston was born in the United States and grew up in Baltimore, but has lived in Canada for nearly a decade. She said summers in Maryland are very humid and heading to their Quebec cottage was an annual tradition for her family.

Although Beaver Dreams, which has won two Montreal Fringe Festival awards, is not an educational show, Winston said some people learn a thing or two about beavers from the production.

“Some people don’t really know what they do and how they live and this show kind of gives them a glimpse into that but a very comical, silly, imaginative way,” she said.

Beaver Dreams runs at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre from Aug. 11-19. Tickets $12. Show times vary.

For more information and tickets, visit