The rivalry between Canada and Norway has always seemed to reflect the nature of their residents: mannerly.
Consider what happened during a cross-country skiing event at the 2006 Winter Olympics. A Norwegian coach gave a Canadian skier a pole so she could compete after her own had broken, enabling Canada to win a silver medal. Norway placed fourth.
The showdown continued in last year’s Winter Olympics, when Norway upset Canada in a team curling competition.
“You had to bring that up, eh?” Fraser Tolmie, mayor of the Saskatchewan city of Moose Jaw, said in an interview Saturday.
There has been a rivalry, sure, but above all, a friendly one. Now, however, it seems that the line has been crossed.
Mac the Moose, a 32-foot-tall sculpture in Moose Jaw, was the tallest moose sculpture in the world for more than 30 years. Then one was erected in Norway in 2015. At nearly 33 feet, the shiny Norwegian moose sculpture named Storelgen bested Mac for world bragging rights.
“We take this personally,” Tolmie said. “There are some things that you just don’t do to Canadians: You don’t water down our beer, you don’t tell us we can’t put maple syrup on our pancakes and you don’t mess with Mac the Moose.”
Norway messed with Mac the Moose.
Storelgen was designed by Linda Bakke, a Norwegian artist who saw an opportunity to best Canada at something.
“When it was decided to create a sculpture in that dimension, we decided we could just as well step in and make the world’s largest and, in addition, the world’s finest,” Bakke said. “That was not so difficult to beat.”
The Guardian reported on the outsize moose-measuring contest Saturday. Mac the Moose was created in 1984 out of a steel frame, metal mesh to provide the shape, and layers of concrete. It was not only the pride of Moose Jaw but of all of Canada, Tolmie said.
Now Moose Jaw has mobilized to make Mac the Moose great again. Justin Reves, 32, and Greg Moore, 33, made a video calling on the people of Moose Jaw to action. The duo created a GoFundMe campaign to make Mac the tallest moose sculpture in all the world.
The online fundraiser has raised about $2,000 of its $50,000 goal. The Ford dealership in Moose Jaw donated $1,000 to the campaign and is challenging local business owners to do the same.
“I think what is fun is when a community gets behind something and sees what it can accomplish,” said Shaun Airey, 45, general manager at Moose Jaw Ford. He added, “We can make him taller, and give him some new antlers and have some fun with it.”
Reves and Moore think of it more as a challenge.
“They intentionally made their elk 30 centimeters taller,” Reves said. “They were trying to send a message, so we can’t let this stand.”
Tolmie agreed. He has a personal connection with Mac — the moose is named after his great-uncle Les MacKenzie — and feels strongly that something must be done. “We have a very unique name, Moose Jaw, so there is a very significant connection having Mac standing there on guard to our community,” he said.
He called on residents of Moose Jaw and Canada for suggestions on how to make Mac the world’s tallest again.
“Mac has a prepared a statement,” the mayor said. “I will be reading his statement and we will be looking at what he wants to get done.”
Bakke is willing to make another moose statue taller than Storelgen for Canada — or anyone else willing to pay her. “It is a little fun to beat Canada in something,” Bakke said. But, she added, “I’m neutral.”