We just got back from vacation: two weeks camping, hiking, biking, and kayaking in Northern Ontario. Northern Ontario is a beautiful, wild area, and one of our favorite places. This is our sixth trip there in 12 years.
All along the roads in Northern Ontario, there are signs warning about moose. Simple moose crossing signs like this:
and evocative, glow in the dark signs, like this:
I would love to see a moose in the wild. We’ve driven all over Northern Ontario, past countless Danger! Moose Crossing! signs. In 12 weeks of driving around Northern Ontario, I’ve seen at most, one moose. This one:
Which, you’ll notice, bears a distinct resemblance to an old stump.
I want to believe it’s a moose. I really do. But I have to be honest. We don’t have moose in this area, but we do have white tailed deer, and lots of deer crossing signs, too. I guarantee you — if a Canadian family spent 12 weeks driving around here, they would see plenty of deer, unmistakable, side of the road, in your face, deer. Not one, off in the swampy the distance, that kind of looks like driftwood.
It saddens me to say it, but I’m forced to come to one inescapable conclusion.
The moose are a lie.
It’s a conspiracy of the Ontario highway department (the OPP) and the Canadian tourism industry. What better way to keep tired drivers alert on a lonely, empty highway, except signs urging them to keep alert for moose? And moose — moose calendars, moose posters, moose pens, moose tracks ice cream — sell.
It’s true, Canadians tell great stories about the moose — the night they saw 14 moose on Highway 17, the bull moose that jumped through a windshield and impaled the steering wheel on his antlers, how “no one sees moose now, because they sleep in August.” That’s what’s Canadians do in the long, cold, dark, snowy winter — they enter Tall Moose Tales competitions. The winners get a cash prize from the OPP and a free moose mug. An entire industry builds fake moose and plants them in the swampiest, most bug-infested parts of Ontario. (Where? Moose Factory, of course.)
Yes, I know there are countless photos of Canadian moose on the internet. It’s amazing what you can do with Photoshop.