Those big honkers are CANADA geese, let there be no mistake. I thought I remembered reading that they were named for a Mister Something-or-other CANADA, but that might be my memory inserting things that were never there.
One wag claims they were named for the Canada Tribe of Indians, but that theory doesn’t get much traction.
Here’s an excerpt from one linguistic analysis I’ve found on why they’re called Canada Geese instead of Canadian Geese:
Remember, the official name for any bird is its Latin name. So the "real" name for this creature is Branda canadensis. That's because the bird probably has 200 different names in 200 different languages, based on its colors, its sounds, its habitat or many other reasons.
No, not exactly a definitive explanation.
Had things worked out a little differently, we might be calling them Wawa Geese.
There’s a chain of eat-and-get-gas stores up north called “Wawa” and their official corporate website weighs in on the story:
“Wawa" is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in the Delaware Valley, that's why we use the goose on Wawa's corporate logo.
Perhaps that diminishes, but doesn’t entirely dismiss, an alternate theory that the term "Wawa” is onomatopoeia for goose noise.
Ground zero for the Wawa-Canada Goose connection, however, is found in Wawa, Ontario, where the town’s webpage tells us:
With Wawa meaning "Wild Goose or Land of the Big Goose" in Ojibway, it makes perfect sense to have a goose welcoming visitors at the entrance of town.
Perfect sense, indeed. I've never heard anything more perfectly sensible.
The huge monument came about after construction of the Trans-Canada Highway linking Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie:
The folks in Wawa fought long and hard to see the road completed and although they were glad to see it reach their front doors, local businessmen were a bit disappointed that the highway actually by-passed the downtown core of the community.
So one of Wawa's local entrepreneurs of the day, Mr. Al Turcott, a very creative and ingenious man, felt that Wawa needed something that would stop highway travelers and invite them to come into town. You can imagine the reaction of some of the townsfolk to his idea of a huge statue of a Canada Goose made of plaster. Well, the fact is that this has become Wawa's "Claim to Fame" and our famous goose has welcomed millions of visitors.
The friendly folks in Wawa, Ontario invite you to come by anytime to see their fair city:
Take a "gander" at our famous goose during your visit. You can't miss it at the junction of Highway 17 and 101, right next door to our beautiful Tourist Information Centre with the red roof!
The goose of steel welcoming travelers to Wawa, since 1963, is at least the third bird of giant proportions to fly over the town, replacing an earlier plaster goose, which has been relegated to a less lofty position:
An old postcard reveals another Wawa goose (at least I believe it's a third goose):
I’d like to think that some future archaeologists will unearth those giant effigies in Wawa and concoct elaborate theories about the strange cults that venerated the statues of the mighty Canada Goose.
More to come...