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Speakers Corner: Where did all the moose in Toronto end up?

Last Updated Oct 16, 2021 at 5:21 pm EDT

Speakers Corner is back! CityNews wants to hear from you. We’ve been asking you to send us interesting stories, videos or questions you want answered. The Queen Street booth maybe a thing of the past, but we’re still listening and want to hear what’s on your mind.

In this week’s Speakers Corner we were asked where all the moose in Toronto ended up? Not living, breathing moose but art installations that at one point many years ago were all over the city. They’ve since disappeared. So where are they now?

Back in 2000, nearly 330 large moose sculptures were installed all over the G.T.A.

“They were everywhere,” said Mendl Schwartz. “They were put on top of roofs and in many different places.”

The project was called Moose in the City, the brainchild of George Cohon, founder of McDonalds in Canada. It received support from then Mayor Mel Lastman. Other cities in the U.S. had done similar displays based off other animals.

Corporations bought them, had them installed and local artists painted the sculptures in unique ways.

“I think there were 300 artists around the city that were called up and we were all commissioned to do different moose,” said Ian Leventhal, one of the artists involved.

“I was lucky. I got to do five moose!”

The project was not without controversy.

“A lot of people said it wasn’t really art,” Leventhal said. “It wasn’t supposed to be, it was just to have a good time.”

Some sculptures also became the target of vandals.

“There was a vandalism spree. Somebody discovered the antlers were removable and within days, right across the city, the antlers all disappeared.

Shortly after, so did many of the moose. The project was never intended to be a permanent display. They were auctioned off to the highest bidder and the proceeds benefited various charities.

“After the auction they were brought into private homes or backyards,” Leventhal said.

You can still find a few on public display. Schwartz has the one he purchased outside of his company Incredible Printing in North York.

“It’s something to talk about and be happy about,” he said.

Back in 2000, Schwartz also printed and donated several coffee table books with photos of all the moose.

“It’s a beautiful book showing the different sculptures and how no one was the same.”

Schwartz still has nearly 2,000 books left. Based on CityNews’ inquiry about the moose, he now wants to sell them and donate all proceeds to a local charity. He’s asking to hear from the public on which charity might benefit.

“I haven’t thought about these books in a while, but based on this new interest, I think it would be a great fundraiser,” he said. “This was, in my opinion, a fantastic project at the time that brought the city together, why not resurrect some of that positivity.”

If you would like to buy a book or know of a charity that could benefit, send an email to Mendl, mendl@incredibleprinting.com or call (416) 630-5200.

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