by MORGAN LOWRIE, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Posted Sep 3, 2016 4:00 am PDT
Last Updated Sep 3, 2016 at 8:08 am PDT
The loon is familiar to Canadians because of its presence on the one dollar coin
MONTREAL (NEWS 1130) – The votes are in and, if Canadians have their way, the common loon could one day join the beaver and maple leaf as an official symbol of Canada.
While the US has the bald eagle and Britain has the robin, Canada has no national bird of its own — something the Royal Canadian Geographical Society is trying to change.
The organization launched its national bird project in January 2015, inviting Canadians to vote for their candidate of choice on the website of Canadian Geographic magazine, which it publishes.
Although the loon topped the contest with nearly 14,000 of the almost 50,000 votes cast, there’s no guarantee it will emerge the winner.
A panel debate will be held in Ottawa in September, where experts will argue the merits of each of the top five birds.
The final choice will be announced Nov. 16. After that, organizers will submit their proposal to the government, probably through a private member’s bill in the Commons.
When the contest ended Aug. 31, the loon had outstripped the snowy owl (8,498 votes) and the gray jay, or whiskey jack (7,918).
The Canada goose finished fourth, while the black-capped chickadee rounded out the top five.
A spokeswoman for the geographical society said the loon is familiar to Canadians because of its presence on the one dollar coin and its “haunting” call.
“It’s synonymous with Canada’s North and wilderness,” Deborah Chapman said in an interview.
“I think when people think of the loon we think of that call, and that reminds us of the North, which is a bit about who we are.”