An iconic community symbol in St. Malo that has been kept in storage for the past four years will stand tall once again.
The famous deer statue was taken down in 2015 to make way for a seniors housing development at the north end of town.
Council for the RM of De Salaberry and the St. Malo and District Wildlife Association signed an agreement Tuesday night to have the statue re-erected on the Parc Esso site at the corner of Highway 59 and Avenue De La Grotte.
Wildlife President Ian Kirby says this is an exciting announcement for their club and the community of St. Malo.
"We are very relieved that we were able to find a permanent solution for the location of the deer statues," says Kirby.
He notes the statues were originally built to commemorate a conservation effort, done in partnership with Manitoba Conservation, the City of Winnipeg and the St. Malo and District Wildlife Association back in the 1970s. At the time, Winnipeg was experiencing an overpopulation of deer and a sharp increase in the number of motor vehicle collisions with deer.
At that point, Kirby notes, the first ever live white-tailed deer relocation in Canada occurred where they used live traps to capture the deer and move them a wildlife habitat preservation area at the St. Malo Management area south of St. Malo.
"That was a monumental effort at the time for a little organization that was 15 or 17 years old at the time. That’s what the statues were commemorating," Kirby adds.
According to Kirby, the statues garnered quite a lot of attention from the community when they were first unveiled by a visit from the Royal Family.
"Being our roadside attraction, in a prairie full of roadside attractions," he explains, "it kind of became something that St. Malo was known for and the municipality had included it with a lot of branding information and tourism information and it became a symbol of identity for the community in St. Malo."
"It was greatly missed."
He adds although the wildlife association was a key part in getting the statues, Kirby says they view it as a community icon that belongs to everyone.
"There was a lot of community volunteerism outside of our association as well as inside, that went towards maintenance and establishment and all of the care of the statues and the associated surrounding infrastructure over the years and we want that recognized and commemorated further."
Kirby says after four years of being in storage, it will be nice to see the statues standing tall once again at their new home.