“I’ve never been to Canada. I certainly regret that now.”
Eric Fuhrmann was as surprised as anyone on Friday when his submission in the City of Yellowknife’s contest to name an 11-foot ornamental muskox beat 299 rival entries.
The City received the muskox as a gift from Québec. It originally featured in a horticultural show in Gatineau to mark Canada 150.
Fuhrmann’s winning suggestion? Elon Muskox.
“I have a friend who lives in Yellowknife and I thought it would be fun to contribute,” said Fuhrmann, whose home is in the United States.
‘Maybe he’ll see the humour’
In an unlikely development, Fuhrmann said his entry to the contest had its roots in a Facebook group that pays homage to BBC TV show The Office.
Though he and Adam Montague have never met in person, when Yellowknife resident Montague shared the City’s Facebook post to that group, Fuhrmann and another Office fan decided to submit witty names.
“It was such an obvious name to me,” he said of his choice, Elon Muskox, from his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
“I was thinking at some point I’ll have to come up and take some pictures with the muskox.”
When asked what it feels like to have named a monument in a country he has never visited, he said: “Quite honestly, it’s an honour. I hope that it brings a chuckle to people who see it.
“It’s quite a surprise and maybe Mr Musk will see the humour in it. It was all in good fun.”
Musk showed no immediate sign of acknowledging the surprise dedication, despite being approached by a number of journalists and tagged online by hundreds of people.
Fuhrmann said he is bestowing his prize from the City – a one-month family pass to Yellowknife’s recreation centres – on Montague, who is better positioned to make good use of it.
He also rebutted online comments from Yellowknifers, not all of whom were fans of the outcome. Some suggested Fuhrmann ‘stole’ the election by encouraging American friends to vote (a level of coordination ordinarily expected from Russia, not the United States).
“I didn’t ask anyone to vote on it. I didn’t get any American friends to vote. I let nature take its online course,” he insisted.
One less-than-impressed resident commented on the City of Yellowknife’s announcement: “So, someone from away suggested a name honouring someone else from away, and likely garnered votes from people from away – and now the residents are stuck with this?”
“I was hoping the city would pick the top 10 or 20 [names] that somehow relate to YK history and then put those up for a vote,” wrote another. “This name may be fun, but in no way represents YK or the territories.”
The debate carried on beneath Cabin Radio’s Instagram post about the newly named beast: “How sad that the noble muskox is named after a man whose climate change strategy is to relocate a few super rich to another planet,” wrote one commenter.
Northerners criticizing the winner and his entry may remember the time residents were asked, in the 1990s, to come up with a name for the Northwest Territories after separation with Nunavut.
The name ‘Bob’ came in second place.