A 60-year-old Image Problem

Tisdale’s eye-catching sign

After 60 years, the good people of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, are thinking of changing their slogan from “Land of Rape and Honey” to . . . something else. Well, it’s about time. Every town and village should reconsider logos, symbols, signs, and slogans that have been around for 50 or 60 years. Shake things up a bit.

Apparently, the old slogan made sense at the time. Tisdale, up in the northeast part of Saskatchewan’s black soil district was a great place for farmers and beekeepers sixty years ago. There was so much honey produced in the area that a big co-op warehouse was built to handle, process, and export several million pounds of the sweet stuff every year. Rape seed – genetically engineered and rebranded as canola – was the biggest cash crop. When I kept bees in northern Saskatchewan in the 1980s, canola was just catching on. Farmers loved the stuff – it grew well on freshly deforested parkland, and it sold for a fair price. (It is remarkable to realize that new farmland was still opening up by the thousands of acres a year, just thirty years ago in Canada.) Farmers loved canola, but they still called it rape. Just as the 60-year-old slogan in Tisdale still does.

Tisdale is thinking about changing with the times. The obviously crude slogan became even more crude when rape disappeared and canola took its place in the fields of Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, the farmers’ vocabulary remained stagnant. The town held a survey 20 years ago, trying to decide if it was time for an update back in 1992, but the vote was evenly split, so the slogan stayed. But times change. Today, less than one percent of the local cropland is planted in rapeseed. So the change-the-words campaign is holding another vote and is inviting submissions for a new slogan. “A Great Place to Bee” and “Hub of the Northeast” seem to be front runners. But “Less Rape and More Honey” will probably be the winner.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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