Moose are good for more than just supper

Somewhere at my parents farm in Aldergrove, B.C., buried amid boxes of old photo albums and hockey card collections, I believe there’s a photo from when I was younger, standing next to Mac the Moose.

Mac wasn’t very old at that point either; he’d been completed in 1984. He was already known as a proud part of the community, greeting visitors to the Friendly City at the east end. And I was pretty impressed to have an encounter with this 32-foot-tall structure.

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Mac’s still pretty impressive. He’s still a lot taller than me. He’s still one of Moose Jaw’s most famous landmarks. Welcome to Moose Jaw. Home of the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa, the Canadian Snowbirds, and Mac the Moose.

But some usurpers from the Norwegian municipality of Stor-Elvdal decided their community should be home to the world’s largest moose, and built a towering moose sculpture of their own. Since it was built with steel, it has an impressive shine that makes it look great, although it doesn’t resemble a moose like Mac does.

It’s worth noting that the moose, known as Storelgen, was completed in 2015, and has held the distinction of the world’s largest moose for the past few years. But the story of Mac’s status as second-tallest, and the quest for him to regain his world’s largest distinction, has only been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks.

I’m sure Stor-Elvdal is a beautiful community with friendly people who uphold their nation’s reputation for being jovial and hospitable. I’d never heard of the municipality before this moose flap, but I’m sure they’d never heard of Moose Jaw until the last few years.

(I’m sure most have never heard of Estevan, either).

I know that Moose Jaw is easier to pronounce than Stor-Elvdal. And I’m not sure if Stor-Elvdal translates to moose in any way, but if it doesn’t, then they shouldn’t have taken away a Saskatchewan city’s claim to having the world’s biggest moose.

Anyways, the two sides have come together on a compromise. Once Moose Jaw has enough money to give Mac some antler enhancements, it will once again be home to the world’s biggest moose. And Stor-Elvdal won’t put up a fight.

But Moose Jaw had to acknowledge that Stor-Elvdal has the prettier moose. I think Moose Jaw won this wager.

Hopefully, this will be a message to other communities out there: don’t mess with a Prairie community’s “World’s largest” claim.

Perhaps the best news to come out of this has been the publicity for both communities. There was that Norwegian pop band that wrote a song about the moose flap that was as catchy as a Saskatchewan cold virus in the late winter/early spring months. And then a band in Canada responded with a song named No Way Norway.

The Moosehead brewery in Atlantic Canada joined the fight by donating money for Mac’s new antlers.

And there have been all sorts of articles about the these two communities locking horns over who had the biggest moose. If you didn’t know about Stor-Elvdal, you did now.

We’ve even seen a top official from Stor-Elvdal come to Moose Jaw to meet with people in the community, take in a Moose Jaw Warriors hockey game, and, coolest of all, fly in a plane at the Canadian Air Force’s 15 Wing Moose Jaw base.

It’s been entertaining and proof that we can have fun through the media across international waters.

People who haven’t heard of these communities before now know that they have really big moose statues. And an ability to laugh at themselves. Apparently more people have been coming to Moose Jaw since this situation erupted earlier this year. I’m not sure if more people have been posing for photos with Mac the Moose in the last two months, but that’s because it’s winter in Saskatchewan, it’s been incredibly cold outside, and I’d rather sit in my warm vehicle and stare at a moose sculpture, than stand in front of him and risk frost bite. (And freezing my camera).

Under normal circumstances, I would tell you there are two good uses for moose. The first is photography. They make for some great subject matter for photos.

The other is hunting. I’ve seen some great mounts of moose on walls over the years. And I’ve enjoyed some great moose meat, too.

As for Mac’s place in the world of statues, it was fitting that the world’s largest moose was located in a city named Moose Jaw, in a province known for its wildlife and big game hunting opportunities.

And he’ll regain his spot as the world’s largest moose. He’ll continue to watch over people driving along the Trans Canada Highway.

And young children will get to continue to marvel at this towering sculpture. They’ll get to have their photos taken with him.

And hopefully it will be many years before another community has the bright idea to try to usurp Mac’s place as the biggest in the world. 

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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