Calgary

Beloved Canmore elk to be memorialized in interactive walking tour

Marvin the bull elk died in May, and the walking tour will trace his usual hangouts in a Canmore neighbourhood.

Walk with Wally route will offer stories and visuals of the animal's wanderings

An elk got tangled up in Christmas lights and decorations in Banff in 2013. Canmore residents believe this was Marvin the elk, who died in May. (Courtesy of Dan Rafla/Parks Canada)

A beloved Canmore bull elk — known by many names, but most often referred to as Marvin or Wally — will be memorialized by a walking tour following the paths where he used to roam.

The antlered animal died in May.

He passed with his longtime friend, Angus the husky, at his side.

"Angus just lay there with him, he absolutely refused to leave and come in at night," said Derek West, owner of Angus, in an earlier interview with CBC news.

"Marvin just kind of lay down, stretched out under a tree in front of our patio and went to sleep in the afternoon, and he just kind of faded away."

Marvin the elk and Angus the husky were great friends until the elk died. (Beate West)

The elk was well-known by Canmore residents and visitors, who often documented his wandering through backyards, streets and horse stables — especially in the neighbourhood of Cougar Creek.

The memorial project, called Memories of Wally, is collecting stories and photos of the ungulate that will eventually be turned into an interactive tour called Walk with Wally.

It is part of a Canmore public art initiative called Building Neighbourhoods Builds Community.

Nine artists were each assigned a neighbourhood where they could facilitate a creative installation.

Peig Abbott, a Canmore artist who is spearheading the Memories of Wally project, knew she wanted to honour the old elk. She was struck with inspiration for the tour when she thought about how many nicknames the large animal had collected over the years.

We tell you about a project underway in Canmore to memorialize a friendly and beloved elk named Wally, who some people called Marvin. And Boris. And Uncle Buck. 7:26

Marvin, Uncle Buck, Boris, Wally, Eric, Bryce, to name a few.

"We thought it was kind of a nice alliteration, Walk with Wally or Meander with Marvin," Abbott said on the Calgary Eyeopener.

The guided route will have sites marking areas where Wally once hung out. 

Abbott says the plan is to take people to these sites, then have them listen to a bit of audio on their phone with a story or memory about the animal.

"It extends to something larger, larger than us, larger than Wally, Marvin," she said.

"It's about how we coexist with wildlife and how wildlife coexists with us.… And so it creates a bigger conversation. And how each of us are responsible for the way we move in the world."

Marvin the elk often came right into people's backyards, not being scared of humans. (Beate West)

Abbott's own early morning encounter with the elk outside her Canmore studio left her in awe.

"I was leaving my studio early one morning and all of a sudden … there's this massive bull elk right in front of my truck," she said.

"Just having these moments of celebrating the majesty of this incredible being … I can understand why the community wants to celebrate him."

Abbott is collecting the stories and images of the elk using the Facebook group Memories of Wally and at memoriesofwally@gmail.com.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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