North

Stuffed animal display near Fort Smith, N.W.T. burned for 2nd time

A landmark along the highway to Fort Smith, N.W.T., known to some as 'Teddy Bear Junction,' has been destroyed for the second time in three years.

Original display was also destroyed in 2012

Seen here intact in 2013, 'Teddy bear junction,' a landmark along the highway to Fort Smith, N.W.T. has been destroyed for the second time. (Allie McDonald)

A landmark along the highway to Fort Smith, N.W.T., has been destroyed for the second time in three years.

The row of stuffed animals sitting on chairs was well-known to travellers along the road, but last weekend a passerby noticed the toys had been burned, leaving behind a pile of charred chair frames.

"It was something of significance," says Brad Brake, the mayor of Fort Smith. "My kids would like to stop and have a look at it and I'm sure a lot of other people's kids did."

This isn't the first time stuffed animals in the area succumbed to the same fate. The original display was also found burned in 2012. But soon after, local stuffed animal lovers revived the attraction, which Brake calls "Teddy Bear Junction," and the chairs and bears were replaced.

Brake says the origins of the display are unclear.

"Honestly I don't know. Somebody started it, somebody placed the stuffie out there and it sort of grew on its own," he says. Brake believes people from surrounding communities added to the attraction.

News of the destruction hit hard on Facebook, with comments like "why, why, why? Unkind senseless," and "Sure is some sick people up there." Others, however, called the display a "big mess" and likened it to littering.

That's not how Brake saw it though.

"You know, I interpreted it as sort of a folk art installation."

"Honestly, I don't know if there's anything nefarious there," Brake said of the two acts of vandalism. "We know they burnt them up."

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