Fantastic Beasts of Canada

....And where to find them

Canada is a land known for its fanciful fauna, but some of our wildest creatures are more elusive than others.

For all the budding supernaturalists, we are pleased to present a selection of Canada’s lesser-known fantastic beasts:

These images are part of Library and Archives Canada's Rare Book Collection

All of the images are taken from books, often exploration or missionary narratives, published before the year 1800.

Please note that we may have embellished our descriptions a bit, but it’s all in good fun.

Sphinx Beaver: Black and white pencil drawing of a beaver lying down with its mouth open. 

Sphinx Beaver

Its exasperated face, corrugated pelt and prominent earholes distinguish this mysterious member of the beaver family.

A highly affectionate, yet selective rodent.

Where to find it: Great Lakes region, from Kingston to Thunder Bay, including Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie

Item 44 in the Rare Books database

Prairie Whale: Black and white pencil drawing of a whale spouting water from its blowhole. 

Prairie Whale

This small terrestrial whale strains wheat through its baleen. It is a real team player and always gives 110%!

The slow-moving giant was hunted nearly to extinction for its moisture reserves. Wild specimens are rare.

Where to find it: South of Saskatoon

Item 169 in the Rare Books database

Sea Horse: Black and white pencil drawing of a sea lion with long fangs and claws. 

Sea Horse

True to its name, the sea horse has the fangs, claws, whiskers and caudal fin of a horse.

This animal is extremely dangerous, especially in months with 31 days.

Where to find it: From coastal Newfoundland to Rimouski

Item 169 in the Rare Books database

Bubblecroc: Black and white pencil drawing of a smiling crocodile facing right. 


The buoyant, air-filled pockets of the skin of this crocodilian protect it during transportation.

Despite its wide grin, this reptile is untrustworthy; it lies a lot!

Where to find it: Prince Edward Island, where a 4-metre specimen was once observed in Summerside

Item 11 in the Rare Books database

Morose Otter: Black and while pencil drawing of a sea otter lying on a beach. 

Morose Otter

This gloomy mustelid will consume twice its own weight to avoid dealing with unpleasant feelings.

The morose otter is solitary. It often leaves passive-aggressive comments on social media.

Where to find it: Southern New Brunswick, especially in the Fredericton–Saint John–Moncton triangle

Item 363 in the Rare Books database

Glamour Moose: Black and white pencil drawing of a moose standing beside fallen antlers. 

Glamour Moose

This dazzling member of the elk family sheds its antlers and eyelashes at each season, to keep up with the latest trend.

It is able to kick sideways on stiletto hooves. However, it may be approached safely if you find the right words.

Where to find it: Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver

Item 73 in the Rare Books database

Whippet Deer: Black and white pencil drawing of a slim moose jumping on rocks. 

Whippet Deer

A cartilaginous skeleton and rubber antlers make this deer one of the most graceful and flexible animals in the world.

Hairless and aerodynamic, it is the fastest land mammal. The Whippet Deer is threatened by poachers, who use its antlers to manufacture hockey pucks.

Where to find it: Throughout the Rockies, from Kamloops to Lethbridge

Item 109 in the Rare Books database

White Bear: Black and white pencil drawing of a white bear that is actually brown. 

White Bear

This bear is easily recognizable: chocolate brown fur, brown eyes, brown teeth, muppet feet. Oddly enough, it is frequently confused with the Brown Bear.

Where to find it: In Canada’s Far North, from Whitehorse to Iqaluit, and sometimes in Yellowknife

Item 116 in the Rare Books database

Feline Sea Lion: Black and white pencil drawing of a sea lion with round eyes and long eyelashes.  

Feline Sea Lion

This animal combines the worst traits of a lion and a seal. Its puzzled face, annoying gaze and powerful torso distinguish it from other marine mammals.

Feline sea lions have become an invasive nuisance for people at swimming pools and spas because of their uninvited shoulder massages.

Where to find it: Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba

Item 169 in the Rare Books database

Northern Needle-rat: Black and white pencil drawing of a porcupine with short needles on its back and long claws. 

Northern Needle-rat

Its highly abrasive pelt and sharp talons make this animal a popular pet choice.

The Northern Needle-rat is very social and found in colonies numbering in the thousands.

It has a high-pitched cry that is almost impossible not to whistle along with.

Where to find it: Pictou, Dartmouth, Cape Breton Island

Item 79 in the Rare Books database

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