Calgary student’s tribute to moose made her internet famous

A Calgary TikToker is being credited with the ultimate Canadian design.

Chloë Chapdelaine, 23, designed a new moose-crossing sign, coming soon to highways across Canada.

Back when she was an 18-year-old visual communications student at Medicine Hat College, Chapdelaine drove to her summer job in Foremost, Alberta, every day. On the way, she saw moose-crossing signs that looked outdated and, frankly, were unflattering to moose.

“I noticed that the legs on the old design were quite short and it had this big chest that I haven’t seen on a moose before. There were a bunch of things. The snout was the biggest thing for me. I thought that the snout looked quite floppy whereas I would have drawn the snout to be more proud and erect.”

So the budding designer made it her mission to create a new moose sign, one that did justice to the noble creature. She wanted to make it more moose-like by removing the brow tines she thought were more like a caribou’s and remodelling the tail to look less like the tail of a white-tailed deer. Moose tines are the lower prongs of the antler, smaller than the rest of the antler and pointing downwards.

“I just wanted the sign to be a little bit more anatomically correct. No hate to the original designer as the old sign was very stylistic, but I felt it was quite cartoon-like. I just wanted to make mine have those cartoon features but be more lifelike.”

What initially started as a way to kill time became a labour of love.

“It was funny because I kind of did it as a joke,” she said. “I was bored. I was living in a trailer where I didn’t have Wi-Fi or a TV, and I was just trying to find something to keep myself entertained.”

She says the redesign didn’t take her more than one evening as she simply used a Sharpie to set her own moose on the loose. What took longer was getting officials to pay attention.

“I typed up an essay that I included in my package that I sent out to many different government and transportation departments. I told them why I thought my moose was more anatomically correct. I didn’t think I’d hear back after four years though.”

Chapdelaine had all but forgotten about the drawing she had done as a teenager when she got the surprise of her life after checking an old email address she used when she was crowned Miss Teenage Alberta in 2016. She received notice from the Transportation Association of Canada telling her they were interested in using her moose on new signage.

The moose had jumped through some serious hoops to land there. The association’s website outlines the process. Typically, installing new traffic signs happens when communities speak up about their concerns with old signs. Officials pass along those concerns with a recommendation to assess and correct to the association’s traffic operations and management committee, which explores if there is a need to change a sign. If the committee deems a new sign design is warranted, it tests and releases the new design.

When Chapdelaine was asked about handing over the rights to her moose design, it was an easy choice. The new-found attention helped the content creator find success on social media platforms where she posted a video about her new moose. In the meantime, she switched gears from visual communications and graduated from Mount Royal University’s journalism program.

“I’ve been recognized in public from people who I hadn’t met before. They asked if I was the girl who designed the Canadian moose crossing sign and they said they saw my TikTok. I have had a huge growth in followers as well.”

She has also launched “Moose Merch,” which includes T-shirts with her logo, promising a portion of the proceeds to the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation.

So does she think her moose tale is the most Canadian story of the year?

“It can’t get anymore Canadian than this,” she said. “I think it is just cool to have this as a legacy. I haven’t seen the sign yet myself, but I think this is a super cool thing to be able to say I did.”

Murtz Jaffer is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter at @murtzjaffer.

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