Still Standing

Five small towns with great slogans

Viva Fox Vegas

Viva Fox Vegas

Who needs the Bellagio when you've got this? (CBC)

A good town slogan can make all the difference. It can both give a town a sense of identity and get out-of-towners passing through to pull over and say "The what capital of where now? I gotta see this!"

Here are five small towns that really understand the value of a good slogan.

Fort Liard, N.W.T., "The Tropics of the North"

One might wonder how Fort Liard, a hamlet of 500 people in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, can be considered the tropics of anything. It has an average annual mean temperature of -1 C and gets roughly 165 cm of snow per year. But all things are relative, and in the Northwest Territories, that counts as downright balmy. It also means that Fort Liard, near the B.C. border, has one of the longest plant growing seasons in the N.W.T.

Florenceville-Bristol, N.B., "The French Fry Capital of the World"

That bag of McCain french fries is a freezer staple in households across Canada and in many other parts of the globe. But where do those fries come from? In the most literal sense, they come from one of 47 processing plants spread across six continents, but spiritually, they all come from Florenceville-Bristol. This is where two brothers — sons of a potato farmer, obviously — started the business that would become a frozen food empire, and it's still home to McCain's global headquarters, which employs 1,300 people in a town of 1,600. Florenceville-Bristol is also home to the New Brunswick Potato Museum, also known as Potato World, where you can load up on spud-related facts.

Fox Creek, Alta., "Welcome to Fabulous Fox Vegas"

At first glance, Fox Creek, Alta. has very little in common with Las Vegas. Fox Creek, roughly 259 km northwest of Edmonton, does not have Céline Dion doing a residency at Caesars Palace, heavyweight title fights at the MGM Grand, or the world famous Strip. But what it does have is, well, anything at all that serves as a place to unwind, and when you've been working and living in one of the surrounding shale oil camps, that's enough to make it feel like Vegas. It's important to note that the town itself has never officially embraced the slogan or the Fox Vegas nickname. It's strictly unofficial. That said, some local businesses have opted to lean into it.

Churchill, Man., "The Polar Bear Capital of the World"

A polar bear near Churchill, Manitoba. (Alex Beatty/Churchill Northern Studies Centre)

Polar bears spend most of the winter on the frozen sea ice, hunting bearded seals, but every summer, when the ice breaks up, they're forced to come ashore. And one of their favourite summertime spots is the area around Churchill, Man., on the shores of Hudson Bay. Roughly 1,000 of the world's largest land carnivores come to the area every year, where they form the backbone of the town's ecotourism industry.

Unfortunately, some of the bears do a little sightseeing of their own, coming into town, and even (albeit very rarely) attacking humans. The town has come up with a number innovative solutions to intrusive bears, including a bear hotline (675-BEAR) and even a bear jail for bears who refuse to be scared out of town.

Sidney, B.C., "Canada's Bookstore Capital"

Beacon Ave. in Sidney, B.C. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Sidney, on Vancouver Island, boasts six independent bookstores for a town of less than 12,000, including antiquarian bookstores, a children's bookstore, a 4,000-square-foot book wonderland that's home to the island's biggest newsstand, and The Haunted Book Shop, which may or may not actually be haunted. Not surprisingly, it's also home to an annual literary festival. (This year's was sadly cancelled due to COVID-19.)

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