Those who frequent Highway 401 westbound must be familiar with the Schneiders sign that's become somewhat of a landmark for residents in Guelph, Cambridge and Kitchener Waterloo.
After driving by its location between Highway 6 north and south recently, many noticed the famous blonde Dutch Girl named Nancy along with the slogan 'Famous for Quality' missing on the billboard. They took to Facebook to express their concerns fearing the sign may be taken down.
“Have no fear, the iconic sign isn’t going anywhere,” said Janet Riley, vice-president of communications and public affairs at Maple Leaf Foods, which owns the billboard.
“In fact, it’s getting an upgrade, just in time for the holidays.”
The 52-year-old sign called the Wiener Beacon in Puslinch Township underwent renovations in 2013 by adding a temperature sensor and an electronic message board. For Maple Leaf Foods, Wiener Beacon represents the long-standing heritage of the Schneiders history in the region. Historically it was also a flight beacon for pilots flying into Toronto Pearson International airport.
Riley said the sign’s lights are being replaced with sustainable LED lights that will use less energy.
Many who expressed concern on Facebook shared that seeing the Wiener Beacon on the highway for years assured them that they’re close to home.
“I wanna thank Schneiders for putting this sign up years ago and making it a local landmark. As a young kid I used this sign to tell how close I was to home when I traveled home from Toronto.The end of an era for sure. RIP Schneiders sign,” shared Matt Koretsky in a Facebook post along with the photo of the sign on the group Food in the Waterloo Region. The post received over 240 comments from people who shared the same sentiment.
Dan Maloney: I didn't grow up in this area but my Dad did and we would come visit his family on holidays. So many happy memories as this sign meant the 3 hour car ride was almost over.
Todd Betts: That really sucks. Such a local iconic symbol. I think everyone in the region saw that as a sign you were almost home. Sad to see it, like so many other great things that I grew up with in this region, being torn down and taken away.
Josh Gimbel: Kind of sad some people do not understand what Schneiders meant to this region, the people they employed and the families supported by those jobs. They were a great employer.
Riley said by mid December, Wiener Beacon will shine even brighter to signal to residents of the Tri-Cities they are almost home.
“Everyone at Schneiders and Maple Leaf is really happy that this sign remains a bit of a local treasure since it was first built in 1961. We intend to take good care of it so the community may enjoy it for the long-term.”