- Sudbury, Ontario – the Big Nickel
- Drumheller, Alberta – Tyra, the World’s Largest Dinosaur
- Duncan, B.C. – World’s Largest Hockey Stick
- Wawa, Ontario – Giant Canada Goose
- O’Leary, Prince Edward Island – Giant Potato
- Shediac, New Brunswick – Giant Lobster
- Kipling, Saskatchewan – World’s Largest Paper Clip
- Beaverlodge, Alberta – Giant Beaver
When Mac the Moose of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan began to attract global attention a couple of years ago, Canadians had a few questions. First of all, “How dare you?” You will not besmirch our beloved moose, Mr. So-called Funnyman Stephen Colbert.
Calling Mac “a papier-mâché dog from an abandoned theme park,” Colbert was riffing on the rapidly heating up Moose Wars between Canada and Norway. I mean, it’s bad enough we had to put up with those pesky Danes perpetually invading Hans Island every few years, but at least we got a few bottles of cognac out of it. Now here’s Norway erecting the giant moose equivalent of the Silver Surfer and making dear ol’ Mac come up short.
Well, not for long. Canada may have many difficult-to-solve problems at the moment, but out-embiggening Norwegians is not one of them. With quick action, Mac had his original antlers removed and replaced with an even larger rack, making him slightly taller than Norway’s moose statue, and restoring Canadian delegates the ability to walk into the U.N. without hearing any sniggering from the Scandinavians. Once again, we had the World’s Largest Moose.
We are very much a country of World’s Largest Things. Behemoth statues and structures are scattered all across this great land, each one a shining tribute to… something. Sometimes it’s an art project. Sometimes it’s about mining heritage. Sometimes it’s just a really big hockey stick because stereotypes can kinda have a ring of truth to them there, bud.
Here’s a look at some of the giant roadside attractions you’ll find across Canada. Who knows, maybe there’s a moosed-see statue near you. Sorry. That was terrible.
Sudbury, Ontario – the Big Nickel
Big Nickel is not, as you might suppose, a rock supergroup formed by the members of Big Sugar and Nickelback. Instead, it’s just a really big coin.
Like, really big. Weighing in at 12,000 kg and nine metres in diameter, the Big Nickel is the largest depiction of a coin in the world. The origins seem pretty straightforward: Sudbury is a big nickel-mining town, so why not pay tribute with a huge coin?
But the history of the nickel shows that the town didn’t really want to have a part in the project. Instead, the Big Nickel was the work of a very driven individual named Ted Szilva, who fought bureaucracy, raised funds, and basically willed the Nickel into existence.
In total, the Big Nickel cost $35,000 when it was unveiled in 1964, or the equivalent of $325,000 today. That’s 6.5 million nickels, if you’re wondering, or roughly twice what the Big Nickel weighs worth of pocket change.
Drumheller, Alberta – Tyra, the World’s Largest Dinosaur
Not far from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in the badlands of Alberta, the world’s largest dinosaur towers over a parking lot near a public park. It’s perhaps not the most accurate representation of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, knowing as we do now that T. Rexes likely had feathers, but Tyra makes up for it by being four times as tall as any living Tyrannosaur was.
She’s relatively young for a dinosaur too, having been built in 2000 at a cost of over $1 million. Visitors can climb up into the dino’s belly and hike up to look out over the fossil beds from a vantage point between her razor-sharp teeth.
Canada’s largest hockey stick photo Photo by Sarah Simpson, Vancouver Sun
Duncan, B.C. – World’s Largest Hockey Stick
Could you imagine if Canada didn’t have this? Never mind the Moose Wars, there’d be a national panic. But happily we do, so back on the bench everyone.
Commissioned for the Canadian pavilion at Expo 86, the world’s largest hockey stick is forty times the size of normal hockey lumber. If Godzilla ever wades out of the Pacific, we can cross-check him right in his stupid face. Aw man! Two minutes for roughing? That’s a garbage call, ref.
Built in sections from Douglas Fir, the stick took three flatbed trucks and a barge to ship it over to Duncan. It now sits at the Cowichan Community Centre, complete with an enormous puck.
Wawa, Ontario – Giant Canada Goose
Oh, sorry. Just imagining the carnage if this thing actually came to life and began wreaking havoc. It’d destroy every golf course in a two hundred kilometre radius.
Eight and a half metres worth of furious cobra-chicken, the giant goose of Wawa exists because of the best traditions of the roadside attraction. The original one was built by local businessfolk concerned that the new highway was bypassing town. Now one of the most photographed stopovers in Canada, it’s a draw that still does the trick.
O’Leary, Prince Edward Island – Giant Potato
Sniff. It’s just. So Beautiful.
Sorry, Irish genes kicking in there a bit. Still, should you find yourself over in the land of Anne of Green Gables, hie yourself to the O’Leary Potato Museum to get a gander at a truly superlative spud. It’s just a really big potato, but it looks delicious.
Shediac, New Brunswick – Giant Lobster
Sadly, there are other, larger lobsters elsewhere in the world. Still, Shediac is famous for delicious actual lobsters, so this 90-ton steel and concrete crustacean is still worth a visit.
It is also noteworthy as the work of Danish-Canadian artist Winston Bronnum who created a number of huge animal sculptures across Canada. His slightly creepy abandoned theme park, Animaland, is about an hour away by car.
Kipling, Saskatchewan – World’s Largest Paper Clip
Far from being merely an interesting roadside stop, the Kipling paperclip commemorates a memorable exchange. In a series of trades, Montreal resident Kyle MacDonald worked his way up from a single paperclip to a house in this small town, an hour and a half east of Regina.
Kipling council built this 1,400-kg red paperclip to mark MacDonald’s unusual swapsmanship, which received an official Guinness world record as a result. And Volkswagen once filmed a Spanish commercial for the Polo here.
Beaverlodge, Alberta – Giant Beaver
Finally, the largest beaver in the world, fittingly located in the town of Beaverlodge in Alberta. It should be noted that, though not nearby, the world’s largest beaver dam is also in Alberta, a huge structure nearly a kilometre across that’s visible from space.
The Beaverlodge beaver is not quite so big, just 5.5 metres long and perched on a polyurethane log. But it is the world’s largest beaver, and these things matter. I’m not sure why, but they do.
Seek out something really large in your home province. Drive there and look at it. Maybe snap a few photos? It’s a Canadian tradition.