'Biggest moose statue' standoff ends with summit, promise of friendship between Norway, Moose Jaw
'Canada might have the biggest moose in the future, and we're totally fine with that': Norwegian vice-mayor
Norwegian and Canadian politicians made peace at what is likely the world's first international moose summit, with tongue-in-cheek barbs replaced with words of unity and friendship.
Linda Otnes Henriksen, vice-mayor of the Norwegian municipality of Stor-Elvdal, came to Saskatchewan to meet with Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie on Saturday, setting the stage for peace after weeks of pointed banter over which town boasted the biggest moose statue in the world.
"I thought, 'It's been going on for so long, we need to get together and talk and show the world we're friends,'" said Henriksen, explaining why she made the trip from Norway to Canada this week.
"We want to make a positive thing out of this and maybe have some friendships between our towns."
She expressed delight with the city of Moose Jaw and how people in the community had welcomed her with open arms.
"You guys are really friendly."
Expansion must occur, says mayor
Moose Jaw and Tolmie had pledged to make the city's Mac the Moose big enough to reclaim the world record, after Stor-Elvdal had a moose created that bested that record.
Justin Reves and Greg Moore, a Regina comedy duo, were the first to bring attention to what they called "an egregious offence," launching a GoFundMe on Jan. 15 to help Mac regain his title.
That fundraiser has so far collected $14,000, while Moosehead Breweries has also donated $25,000 to the cause.
Tolmie said it would be "unfair and unethical" not to spend those publicly donated funds on bringing the "world's biggest moose" title back to Canada, a point which Henriksen concedes.
"Canada might have the biggest moose in the future, and we're totally fine with that," she said.
But Tolmie has a concession of his own to make — Norway's moose is pretty.
I know I've said it looks like a hood ornament; that's just been jealousy in my own heart.- Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie
"I love Mac. He's very very close and near and dear to our hearts," said Tolmie.
"But that is a shiny moose over there. I know I've said it looks like a hood ornament; that's just been jealousy in my own heart," he said, getting a laugh from Henriksen in response.
- 'We were the first': Moose Jaw, Norway just battling for 2nd says Ontario home of the original largest moose
Engineers are currently looking at Mac to assess the sculpture's lifespan and how it might be expanded safely, Tolmie said.
Regardless of what happens with Moose Jaw's sculpture, the attention from international news organizations has been a boon to Moose Jaw and Stor-Elvdal in terms of exposure.
"This has really put us on the map. That's one of the best things we could have got out of this whole thing," said Henriksen.
Tolmie thinks the appetite people had for the lighthearted story of the battling moose was driven by a general thirst for good news stories.
"They want to see people unite, and that's what we're doing."