Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bruce The Moose mall display: Part One

What ever happened to Bruce The Moose? Bruce the Moose at the Quinte Mall in Belleville? At Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket?

There are two follow-ups to this post so far:



You probably don't know Bruce The Moose. In fact, the only reference I can find to Bruce the Moose on the whole bloody internet is on this message-board posting by 'NorthernGrl':
When I was a child, Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario had "Bruce the Moose" He was this huge moose that played a giant piano and sang Christmas carols as you waited to see Santa. Then, in my teens, after the mall had huge renovations, Bruce was just gone.I was really upset, and still wonder where he went. I hope he was refurbished and sent to another mall, and not just trashed.
I also grew up in Newmarket, and have the same story. Bruce was there on the lower level as part of the sit-on-Santa's-lap setup. Bruce was a giant furry semi-animatronic moose. He had a sidekick -- some kind of squirrel or beaver? And they played and sang along in a clackety-clack mechanical way to a prerecorded soundtrack. Sometimes Bruce malfunctioned and didn't move. Sometimes Bruce moved and there was no music.

Now, I considered ... well ... odds are Upper Canada Mall didn't commission Bruce The Moose from scratch. That'd be a mighty big project. There had to be more Bruces the Mooses. (Meese?)

Then I met Sarah Mann, formerly the morning show producer at the radio station here in Halifax. She grew up in Chatham. A mall there also had a Bruce The Moose. She corroborated my story.

The only hard evidence I have of any of this is a single Polaroid. My sister found Bruce at a mall some years ago when she was in University, well past the Upper Canada years. I don't know where the photo has gone, but if I find it, I will scan it and post it.

So, the call is out to any and all who remember Bruce The Moose from any mall ... or anywhere the moose may have roamed.

Seeking:
- Bruce The Moose coloring books or other handouts
- Any recordings or other renditions of the Bruce The Moose music
- Photographs
- Video
- Background: who made the displays?
- Epilogue: where did the Bruces go after they were done?
- More: anyone work with these beasts and have stories to tell about their maintenance and implementation?

This is only Part One. You can add more in the comments or send me e-mail. As the material comes in, I will re-post and expand, and eventually we'll compile the official Bruce The Moose Christmas Display archive on the Interweb.

Step one: I think I'll go call Upper Canada Mall to see if anyone can give me some background.

Spread the word through Facebook or MSN or whatever you people use. Let's get 'er done. Preserve the memories.

10 comments:

  1. I grew up in Chatham, Ontario! (Between Windsor and London, hello Google Maps!)

    Anyway, there used to be a mall in the north end of Chatham called "North Maple Mall." It had Woolco, Bank of Montreal, Zehrs, a pet store an a few other little shops.

    It was smaller than the "Downtown Chatham Centre" (obviously located in the downtown area of the metropolis of Chatham), but it had Bruce the Moose which was far more impressive than the Santa hut and fake snow the Downtown Chatham Centre used to bother with!

    Our Bruce did the same thing, clacked and banged while singing along to the soundtrack.

    Considering this would be around when I would actually go visit Santa, until I was slightly to old to do so, I'd say Bruce the Moose existed in North Maple Mall in the mid to late 80s for sure, and probably into the early 90s.

    Then I became a teenager, got way too cool for even life, and failed to notice not just everything that didn't have to do with me, but also Bruce the Moose's disappearance.

    North Maple Mall has since been torn down and replaced with big box stores, Walmart, Boston Pizza, Payless and all those fun things. So I don't even know who I'd call if I were so inclined to figure out what happened!

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  2. Some follow-up research...

    I contacted Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket for more information.

    Marketing Director Lucia Connor sends the following:

    WOW! The legend lives on.

    The "sidekick" that he referred to was a squirrel not a beaver as he suggested Pretty sure his name was "Chestnut".

    The last I heard of Bruce he was in Chatham and at the former "North Maple Mall" but that was many years ago and who knows where the mighty duo ended up!

    Thanks to Lucia for the follow-up. More to come, I hope!

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  3. So we actually had the SAME Bruce The Moose!

    Chatham took the hand-me-down...

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  4. I've found the Bruce pictures from Shannon.
    Turns out it's a print, not a Polaroid ... and there are three, not one.
    They're labelled as being from xmas 1996.
    I'll scan them this weekend and get 'em up for viewing.
    Now, which mall were they from? Shannon? Was it somewhere in Waterloo?

    I tried tracking down the North Maple Mall -- no luck. Even though it's been demolished, I figured there might still be a contact around for it. An email to the old contact address bounced, and a call to the old phone number rang with no answer.

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  5. It was at Waterloo Town(e?) Square.

    The thing I remember most about the Bruce the Moose experience is the moose's crazy eyebrows. They went up and down very expressively.

    Too bad they don't have those things still going. The mall santa regalia of today seems really lacklustre in comparison.

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  6. I remeber Bruce the Moose at Upper Canada Mall, but I dont remember Santa being there at the same time. All I ever saw was Bruce! I thought it was some plan to appease everyone that there was not a Santa there...but a figure that was benign, and non threatening!! some politically correct idea that went horribly wrong!!

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  7. I saw the photos posted of the Waterloo Bruce the Moose....this is not at all what Upper Canada's looked like. I saw him back in the 80s and I think about him every christmas. I wonder why there are no photos online. I loved the way he made clicking noises when his eyes moved.

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  8. To add to the list...

    Bruce the Moose visited the Quinte Mall in Belleville many a year ago.

    Hope the rumours of his return mean he'll be back in town someday!

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  9. I too have been looking for Bruce The Moose' whereabouts. is there a plan to tour this? Even just one day at our Quinte Mall in belleville would be epic.

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  10. Bruce the Moose at Upper Canada Mall was from Howard Sandy Productions. Santa was a part of the display and sat in the middle of the display between Bruce and Chestnut Brown (more a chipmunk than a squirrel). Every child that visited Santa would receive a Bruce the Moose colouring book and a candy cane.

    The Upper Canada Mall version of the Bruce the Moose Christmas display became impossible to repair/maintain and was shipped to..... either Chatham, Bellville or a mall out East. Howard Sandy made a number of these displays each slightly different from the other (customized) . One of the versions was at Waterloo Town Square in Waterloo.

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