'Bizarre' doll discovered behind Oak Bay wall connected to former German toy designer
A song about exploring the Northwest Passage was playing over the construction site speaker when Will discovered something unexpected behind a wall that made him shriek.
“But in excitement,” Will clarifies, before laughing. “Not eeek!”
Will had uncovered many things during renovations before, including a licence plate from 1914. But the owner of Shane Murray Contracting says Will’s reaction was different this time.
“He thought here’s an animal [behind the wall],” Shane says. “A scary animal.”
But Will’s fears subsided when he took a closer look and realized the creature was clothed.
“It’s kinda scary,” Will says, considering the character’s turned-up nose and disheveled hair. “But kinda cute too”
And definitely a mystery. So Shane posted a picture of the doll from the wall on social media, searching for answers.
“People said, ‘Bury it right away,'” Shane says, summarizing the scared responses. "'It’s the beginning of the end!'"
Others said “freaky,” “bizarre,” and “trigger warning,” before a woman named Ines posted a picture of a similar looking doll on display in her home.
“Mecki is an absolute icon,” Ines smiles. “He’s a hedgehog!”
She says Mecki was the equivalent of Mickey Mouse for generations growing up in Germany.
“A lot of children loved this figure,” Ines says, before laughing that there’s no need for anybody to be scared of him.
Ines says one of her happiest memories as a child was watching the animatronic window displays created by the company that made Mecki.
“We would just stand mesmerized in front of it,” she recalls. “And as it so happens, my husband ended up working for [the company]!”
Klaus created the sets for the Steiff toy company’s 25-metre-long displays, transporting Mecki and his friends to fantastical places, ensuring the mood was playful and the architecture accurate.
“Keep in mind this was before you could Google everything,” Klaus says, showing me photographs and drawings of his past productions. “Either you knew the [details] or you didn’t.”
Looking back on his elaborate designs, ranging from jungle adventures to Wild West towns, Klaus says the best part was sparking children’s imaginations.
“I think it’s the best job I ever had in my entire life,” he smiles, before showing me a huge hot air balloon that he made with Mecki riding inside.
Which brings us back to the renovation site, where Will was also inspired to build something for Mecki – a tiny house created from construction scraps.
It’s a transitional space with a bed (made from COVID-19 masks) and a beverage (a Starbucks coffee cup), where Mecki can acclimatize to his inevitable life beyond the wall.
“We’re looking to adopt him out,” Shane smiles.
If not his original owner, they hope their Mecki can find a little person with a big imagination. Someone who’s hankering for a hedgehog that’s no doubt hungry for adventures to the Northwest Passage and beyond.