Montreal

Quebec town's moose statue won't seek to supplant Moose Jaw's famed Mac

Nicolas Martel, the colourful mayor of Desbiens, Que., initially wanted to get into the friendly feud and build a moose to surpass both Moose Jaw and Stor-Elvdal, in Norway, before having a change of heart.

Nicolas Martel, the colourful mayor of Desbiens, Que., has had a change of heart

A crew works on hoisting up a new rack of antlers for Moose Jaw, Sask.'s, Mac the Moose, officially making him the tallest moose statue in the world — and apparently Mac will keep that title. (Stephanie Taylor/The Canadian Press)

Mac the Moose can rest easy — a Quebec town that wants to build its own massive moose statue next year says it doesn't want to challenge the record for the world's tallest, recently regained by the famed Moose Jaw, Sask., roadside attraction.

Nicolas Martel, the mayor of Desbiens, Que., told The Canadian Press on Saturday he wants Mac to be friends with his yet-to-be built Quebec counterpart, which, he added, will provide some insurance against anyone who might try to challenge Canada again for the record.

Moose Jaw is fresh from knocking off Stor-Elvdal, a Norwegian town that tried to challenge it for world's tallest moose, by installing a new set of antlers on Mac to retake top spot earlier this month.

Officials discovered in January that Mac was about 30 centimetres short pitted against its shiny, silver Norwegian counterpart, Storelgen.

The brouhaha made for international headlines and provided fodder for jokes on late-night talk shows. "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert dubbed Mac a papier maché dog before he was fitted with a new and taller rack of antlers on Oct. 8.

Mac the... dog, according to Stephen Colbert. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

Martel, the colourful mayor of the town of just over 1,000 in Quebec's Lac-St-Jean region, initially wanted to get into the friendly feud and build a moose to surpass both towns, before having a change of heart.

"We saw that it stung the people in the Moose Jaw, so to be right with them, what we'll do out of respect for them, given it's part of the name of the municipality, we'll make our statue the same size as them but leave them with the record," Martel said.

"We'll assure that if the Norwegians decide to come back with a bigger statue, we'll be ready to reclaim the title for Canada because ours will be able to expand."

Just a coincidence

Martel said he wasn't aware that Mac was getting a makeover and said it was just a coincidence that his announcement with local media came a matter of days after Mac was fitted with new antlers, creating concerns about a new challenger.

Mac is on the grounds of Moose Jaw's visitors' centre and is jointly overseen by the tourism bureau and the city. Mac's minders weren't available for comment on Saturday, but Martel assured he wanted to work in tandem with Moose Jaw officials.

"We want to work as a team with Moose Jaw — all with respect for our Canadian cousins," Martel assured.

Martel is known for his offbeat ideas — and thinking big — for putting the tiny town at the mouth of the Métabetchouane River in the province's Lac Saint-Jean region, north of Quebec City, on the map.

Last year, the town created a record-setting, massive 2,120-pound tourtière — another Martel idea — and also hosted the world bocce championships.

Nicolas Martel originally said he wanted a moose sculpture that could be enlarged any time in case its claim to being the world's tallest was challenged. (Radio-Canada)

Martel said the Quebec moose — the centrepiece to a children's amusement park expected to begin construction next year — is also a nod to the local Indigenous community and its hunting culture. It's being built near a former trading post-turned-museum that has been struggling to stay afloat.

He said the $500,000 project has been in the works for a few years now and will take a few years to complete, but the moose will be part of the first phase next spring.

"We're very proud and we're trying to set Desbiens apart from other municipalities in the Lac Saint-Jean region," Martel said.

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