Wawa Goose is Unveiled!

This was part of a special edition created by the Sault Star to commemorate the Opening of the TransCanada at Wawa.

The first goose was designed by Franz Koci of Alberta in 1960, to celebrate the opening of Highway 17, the TransCanada Highway. It most important purpose though, was to act as an attractant to draw the anticipated crowds of tourists to visit the Goose and then Wawa.

Three men, Al Turcott, Mel Phillips and Jerry Spreng; members of the local Chamber of Commerce concocted this scheme, and Al Turcott fronted the cash. The Wawa Goose was installed, and history began. Unfortunately, this didn’t last, and in February 1962, a council meeting was held to determine the winner of a contest to design the replacement. The weather had not been kind, and the Goose had fallen apart, beyond repair.

Ken Lee recounted the history of the geese during his speech. A brand-new councilor, he had been tasked with finding a replacement. A contest was declared, and a number of clay geese were brought to a Council Meeting, frozen stiff, and melting by meeting’s end. Dick Vanderklift had created an elegant goose with outstretched wings from metal — and was the winner. Council kept the scale model and Dick had the contract to build a steel goose, painted, and shellacked five times to protect it from the sulphur smoke from the sinter plant for $5,000. A year later, the new goose arrived via flat bed from the Soo, and once again a Wawa Goose stood guard, guaranteed for 50 years!

Well, fifty years flew by, and the Wawa Goose was rotten inside, the wings were braced and a support placed underneath the tail. Efforts were underway to finance to replacement. Many bought feathers, some bought a small wooden goose painted by Heather Sinnot to commemorate their donation. Corporate sponsors helped, and kids donated their change into a ‘goose bank’ that was in the lobby of the Michipicoten Memorial Community Centre. Finally, the governments stepped in, and there was enough money. Research Casting International was the successful bidder, and using a 3-D scan built an exact copy of our elegant goose.

While the rest of Canada was celebrating Canada150 and Canada Day, Wawa was celebrating the unveiling of the new Wawa Goose. In a ceremony, m/c’d by CAO Chris Wray and with the help of Algoma Power’s big truck, the white tarp was pulled back revealing the new goose. Made to the exact dimensions and design of the original Vanderklift Goose, this goose features a more realistic paint scheme if not the detail of the first, and retained the stabilizing pole beneath the tail.

O Canada was sung by Ellie and Alana McKenzie, and then the speeches began from Chris Wray CAO Wawa, Carol Hughes MP, Michael Mantha MPP, Chief Pat Tangie, Scott Hawkes, President & CEO FortisOntario, Tim Lavoie, Vice President FortisOntario, Ken Lee Former Councillor, Bruce Strapp ED NOHFC, Alexis Alexopoulos, and Mayor Ron Rody.

Special Guests (L-R) Tim Lavoie, Bud Wildman former MPP, Mike Mantha MPP, MFN Chief Pat Tangie, Alexis Alexopoulos, Carol Hughes MP, Chris Wray CAO, Former Municipal Councillor Ken Lee and Mayor Ron Rody at the base of the Wawa Goose.

The speeches all mentioned the importance of the Wawa Goose, its identity, and how important it has become to Wawa. How the efforts of Lori Johnson and her team coordinated and inspired the fundraising campaign and replacement of the Wawa Goose. Donors could purchase a feather, a small goose painted by Heather Sinnot, and in the case of corporate sponsors a brick. Donors include: Rotary Club of Wawa, Wesdome, FortisOntario.

After the speeches, a beautiful cake (baked and designed by Tracy Chalykoff, White’s Custom Cakes did the cupcakes that were served after the cake was finished) was cut and served. Mayor Rody cut the first piece, and Carol Hughes served the cake with Emma Desgagne’s assistance. After the ceremonies, Fred Eaglesmith took the stage, and others went to enjoy the food court, Entomica, Heritage Display, inflatables, mini golf, Artisan market and info booths.

About Brenda Grundt