Beaver responsible for 2017 power outage inspiration of new children’s book

Lights Out Saskatchewan was written by Randa Hopkins and Gayle Garneau. Submitted photo.

Local authors and illustrators have immortalized the beaver that took out power for portions of northern Saskatchewan, including Prince Albert, in 2017.

Randa Hopkins and Gayle Garneau wrote the book Lights Out Saskatchewan!, which was published by Alberta’s By the Book Publishing. It’s illustrated by Gayle’s 18-year-old son Liam.

The book tells the story of Russell Beaverton, who finds Saskatchewan winters far too long and boring, but with help from his cousins and beaver friends, gets into trouble with the power company.

It’s based on the true October 2017 incident, where winds took down a power pole southeast of Prince Albert that had been partially chewed through by a beaver. Power to the city was restored about an hour later, but about 3,500 customers were left in the dark for a full five hours.

At the time, SaskPower called it a very Canadian problem, and that animals account for about one-third of power outages, though beavers aren’t usually to blame.

“We thought it was hilarious, and it will forever be remembered in history,” Hopkins, who lives in Peterborough, Ont. said.

Hopkins lived in Prince Albert for about three years before moving to Ontario in early 2020.

Garneau was born near Birch Hills but now lives near Shellbrook. She said the book also serves as a loving tribute to a friend that passed away last year.

“This whole thing started as joking around, and it took on a life of its own,” she said.

“It’s this rural story and something a lot of kids can relate to around here. There’s that element of purely Saskatchewan to it. We’ve got a great province and it’s a wonderful thing to celebrate.”

Garneau said the book also served as a chance for her to work closely with her son.

“He’s a very avid writer and likes to draw as well,” she explained.

“We’ve always wanted to write a book together and do something together. This was an opportunity for him and I to connect and do something together. We’re thinking about writing another book as well. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

So far, the 27-page illustrated children’s book has been doing well.

“Our publisher has been giving us great feedback. A lot of people have been buying it on Amazon,” Hopkins said.

While Lights Out Saskatchewan! is set locally, it’s resonating in Ontario as well. Hopkins has been selling copies and getting good feedback. She plans to keep selling the books at her local farmer’s market.

Lights Out Saskatchewan! is available from Hopkins, Garneau, or through Amazon.