The town sign of rural Tisdale, Saskatchewan has led to controversy. The sign has been at the town’s border for nearly 60-years, but it’s only now being seriously questioned. The sign’s slogan reads, “Land of Rape and Honey.”
The rape in question refers to rapeseed, a bright yellow crop that was largely farmed in the community when the sign was made. It’s no surprise that most people passing by don’t know the heritage of the sign, and find it offensive.
“We’re at that point where we need to change it,” said Tisdale’s mayor and local accountant, Al Jellicoe.
The mayor says he receives one or two serious complaints a year from both Canadians and Americans driving by. “Once you explain, it eases things up a bit,” says Jellicoe. “But when you’re trying to deal internationally or nationally, I don’t want to do that every time we entice a business to the area.”
According to Devan Tasa, editor of the Tisdale Recorder, the sign has been sparking controversy for the last few decades, but it has taken until now for something to be done.
Even within the town the sign has a splitting effect. There are those who want it changed because it looks bad on the town, and those who are more sentimental and appreciate the historic value of the sign.
Recent surveys show that rapeseed now makes up less than one per cent of the town’s crops, making it arguably irrelevant, and not worth mentioning in your town slogan.
The town is conducting a survey, asking the 3,200 residents if they would like to see the sign changed or stay the same. The survey will run until July, and will give the people of Tisdale the power to change the sign, and not outsiders.
Jellicoe hopes that the survey will bring forward some ideas for a new slogan. His current favourite is a subtle change that says a lot, “Land of Rapeseed and Honey Bees.”