How a verbal miscue spawned a video and a giant snow sculpture in tiny N.B. village
It all started with a verbal misunderstanding that led to the creation of a song.
And then a music video.
And now a 16 foot tall snow sculpture.
Marc LeBlanc, also known as Marc à Paul à Jos, said he wrote the song, The Neguac Elephantafter visiting the village in northeast New Brunswick and meeting a resident who recognized him.
During their conversation, “she actually asked if I had seen Hays Island or l’île-aux-foins,” he said.
But LeBlanc thought he heard the French pronunciation of the word elephant — l’éléphant.
“My French accent is different from hers, so sometimes people have trouble understanding me, but I also have trouble understanding others,” said LeBlanc, who is from Digby, Nova Scotia.
LeBlanc said he eventually found out there wasn’t actually an elephant in the village, but he thought it was a funny story and decided to write a song about it.
On December 19, he released a music video that follows LeBlanc on a hilarious quest to find that elephant.
In the video, a purple elephant can be seen taking a selfie in front of Neguac’s oyster sculpture, hiding behind the village’s lighthouse, and eating ice cream from the Neguac Dairy Bar.
The video caught the attention of residents of Neguac, but also of people from as far away as France.
“They just absolutely love it, I’m amazed at how much they like it,” LeBlanc said.
Neguac Mayor Georges Savoie said LeBlanc’s song quickly caught on in the village.
One restaurant, Chez Raymond, began selling elephant ears in honor of the song, which is a dish of fried dough coated in cinnamon and sugar.
“They’ve been selling them for over two weeks now. They’re doing over 100 a day and they’re gone before the end of the day,” Savoie said.
And that’s where the ice elephant comes into play.
The village of Neguac came up with the idea of having an elephant sculpture made and getting LeBlanc to perform in front of it.
Enter Caraquet-based sculptor Jean-Pascal Brideau, who created a 16-foot purple elephant out of snow.
Brideau said it took him about eight days to create the sculpture.
He painted it purple to match the elephant in LeBlanc’s music video.
Brideau said it was a challenge to mold amid recent rain and then freezing temperatures.
He ended up using a chainsaw instead of his usual shovel to shape the snow, but it was worth it.
“Especially in the last few days it’s been amazing to see people taking pictures and people have been enjoying it more every day,” Brideau said.
And now the elephant sculpture is attracting more visitors to Neguac.
“It’s amazing to see that,” said Mayor Savoie, “the artist is really very good, there’s no doubt about that.”
LeBlanc will perform in front of the elephant sculpture at 11am on February 4th and there’s no doubt it’s going to be a big night in the small village.
There is one final note to this story.
Carole MacKnight, a Neguac resident, said the sculpture brings joy to the community at a time of frustration and sadness after two nursing homes had to close abruptly.
“The last few weeks have been super negative for the village, it’s been really dark,” she said.
“[The sculpture] is great, it’s really big and I think it’s such a nice thing for the community to just bring people together,” she said.