In May, 2016, this sign was destroyed during the massive wildfire this community will never forget. I recall coming back when the long evacuation ended and realizing the sign was gone and sadness washing over me. The loss of this sign troubled me far more than I ever thought it could, and I still miss it even today.
Maybe it’s because it was so reflective of Fort McMurray in all its quirky “wrongness”. Fort McMurray ceased being a city when amalgamation took place in 1995 (yes, 25 years ago in April of this year). And even the look of the sign was a throwback to the days when Fort McMurray was smaller and didn’t concern itself with grandiose placemaking signs. No sir, a sign made of items that looked like they were dragged out of the boreal forest was just fine with us, no need for your high-falutin’ graphic design work (I mean, look at that font! It makes me grin every time).
So, here’s the deal. In my heart, I want this sign back. Not an updated version, not one with the error corrected, not one that’s part of some grand signage scheme so it looks like all the other signs in the region.
The sign that made me smile every time I came home after a long trip, the sign that was wrong and yet so right in every way that mattered, this sign that was destroyed by the fire but barring that fact would likely still be standing today.
I want this sign. As a reminder of the past, as a replacement of what we lost, as some small “in your face” to the fire that broke our hearts but that failed to break us.
This sign. How I miss it.