A turkey nicknamed "Turk Diggler" is shown in this handout photo in Calgary on Jan. 23, 2020. The wayward turkey looking for love captured the imagination of Calgarians in the spring, providing a bit of levity during dark pandemic times. Turk Diggler was eventually eaten by a coyote, but the bird's legacy lives on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Christa White MANDATORY CREDIT

‘Where he belongs:’ Bronze tribute to Calgary’s wandering turkey in the works

CALGARY — Efforts have begun to immortalize the late Turk Diggler, a wild turkey whose jaunts through several Calgary neighbourhoods delighted many as the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave upended normal life.

“He was like our unofficial city mascot and it was the coolest thing,” said Virgin Radio announcer Andrew Uyeno.

Shortly after Turk died in an apparent coyote attack in July, Uyeno started an online petition to erect a statue in the bird’s honour, which has so far attracted more than 1,500 signatures.

Uyeno is hoping a bronze likeness of Turk will one day grace a scenic viewpoint overlooking Calgary’s skyline in the Ramsay neighbourhood.

“Hopefully we can get him on Scotsman’s Hill where he belongs.”

It wouldn’t be the first time wayward livestock received such an honour in the province. There’s a bronze statue in Red Deer in central Alberta of Francis the pig, whose abattoir escape made headlines in 1990.

Uyeno has been working on drumming up support and obtaining city approval, while fellow Turk fan Liz Blake has been in charge of lining up an artist.

Blake said it was more difficult than expected to find someone local who could cast the bird in bronze. For months, she scouted candidates as far afield as Germany and China.

The search finally led to Tom Hjorleifson in Canmore, about 100 kilometres west of Calgary. Blake said she was “blown away” by his lifelike bronze renderings of grizzlies, moose and other wildlife.

“It just happened that he far superseded anything that I could find online.”

Talks are preliminary and there have been no decisions on a design.

Hjorleifson said the sculpture would take several months and would be an “involved, expensive procedure.” The cost would likely come to about $20,000, including installation, he said.

Turk would make a fine subject, he added.

“The colours of a turkey are really incredible and some of them I could get with a traditional bronze patina,” Hjorleifson said.

“They’re quite fascinating birds and they’re quite beautiful.”

Uyeno and Blake haven’t figured out how they’ll fund the statue. One idea is to create a second sculpture from the same mould — a much cheaper endeavour than creating the original — and raffling it off.

Turk began appearing in Ramsay during the spring of 2019. It’s believed he escaped an agricultural event at the nearby Calgary Stampede grounds.

Locals dubbed him Turk Diggler, an apparent play on the fictional porn star Dirk Diggler, but most call him Turk.

Last spring, as Turk matured, he began venturing into other central Calgary neighbourhoods. Some surmised he was looking for a mate. He seemed unperturbed by humans and would frequently stare at his own reflection in windows.

Turk broadened his horizons at a time when most humans were stuck at home.

“Here’s this confident, kooky-looking bird who was now the opposite of being cooped up and visiting all the places we used to visit,” said Avery Maxwell, who runs the Loyal Followers of the Ramsay Turkey Facebook page.

Once Turk began his walkabout, the page ballooned to as many as 6,500 members from 1,400. The page still has more than 6,100 followers — months after Turk sightings ceased — who reminisce about the bird and share turkey-related memes.

Soon after Turk’s rise to fame, Maxwell asked followers who posted Turk art to the page if they wouldn’t mind their designs being used for merchandise such as T-shirts, mugs and hats. They eagerly agreed.

Maxwell said she couldn’t let the phenomenon pass without leveraging it for good.

Proceeds from the Turk merch are being split between the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Calgary Food Bank. As of early December, more than $6,300 had been raised and Maxwell said she hoped to hit $7,000 by year end.

“We can get into a habit this year of really focusing on every negative thing that comes our way,” said Maxwell.

“I have to remind myself that we had Turk.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

VICTORIA — Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have… Continue reading

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) comes in to celebrate with right wing Tom Wilson (43), right wing T.J. Oshie (77) and defenseman Justin Schultz (2), after Oshie's overtime goal in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Washington. The Capitals won 3-2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Nic Dowd scores in OT, Capitals beat Bruins 3-2 in Game 1

Capitals 3 Bruins 2 (OT) (Washington leads series 1-0) WASHINGTON (AP) —… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Most Read