Saturday, July 28, 2012

North-West Ontario Drive - In Search of Big Things

The search for big things while driving through North-West Ontario en route to Sioux Lookout has had some ups and downs.  Planned sightings did not always pan out, either because the attraction no longer exists or we just couldn't find it.  Such was the case for the horse, rider and moose that were supposed to be in Massey, the trout in Nipigon, Indian Head in Dorion, or the Paul Bunyan sculpture in Blind River (although we do plan to take another crack at this one on the way home).

Or in the case of the "Big Apple" in Meaford, it really did not seem that big to me after my first sighting of the enormous trumpeter swan in Midland, shown in an early blog entry.   The apple turned out to be the Meaford tourism booth and initially I didn't believe this was the actual landmark and kept asking people where the BIG apple was.  This structure was not much larger than an Orange Julius stand.  Oh well...

On the other hand, there were some unexpected big things encounters.  In Tobermory, I found a huge teacup and saucer in a sweets shop.  And driving in Thunder Bay, we spotted what looked like a huge Shriner's Fez hat being transported on a flat-bed truck.

Echo Bay was home to the giant Loonie, marking the home of the designer of the coin, Robert-Ralph

A massive baseball is located in the Sinclair Yards, home of the Soo Minor League Baseball Association in Sault Ste Marie

In Wawa I took a photo with the huge elegant goose at their tourist centre, and then found out that this was the second edition of the goose.  The original one, which was constructed in 1960 as a tourist attraction to cause people to stop in Wawa, was much plumper and was designated as the "pregnant" goose by the townspeople.  However its plaster surfaces could not withstand the weather and eventually it fell into disrepair.

The new slimmer sleeker goose (sounds like a younger replacement trophy wife) is built of more durable steel.  The old goose was moved outside of Wawa for many years but has since been restored and returned to sit in front of Young's General Store. 

White River's main claim to fame is its whimsical statue of Winnie the Pooh.  This was the location where the real live bear that inspired these classic stories was from.  A solider from Winnipeg being deployed during WWI stopped by White River and bought an orphaned bear cub from a hunter.  He named it Winnie after his home town and it became his troop's mascot as they travelled to London, England en route to France.  Once there, Winnie was donated to the London zoo where A.A. Milne was inspired to write his Winnie the Pooh series for his son Christopher who loved to visit the bear.

The huge curling stone sculpture in front of Thunder Bay's Fort William Curling and Athletic Club includes plaques denoting the club's past winners of curling championships.  The Canadian Mixed Curling Championship of 1981 was held in Wildwood Curling Club, Winnipeg, which is the club that Rich's parents curled at.

Upsala, Ontario which is between Thunder Bay and Dryden was quite the score since it had not one but two big things standing side by side on two competing gas stations.  First was the monster mosquito holding a knife and fork, in flight with a  frigthenedlooking man (his dinner) in his grasp.    Next was a giant fish which even has a name .. "Waldo The Great", and is featured on post cards in the gas station.  A folklore about Waldo sinking ships in the 1800s stands next to him.

The two gas stations also had competing butter tarts, and Rich (the butter tart connoisseur) felt obligated to taste both to compare.  He was also surprised by the fine selection of cooked foods offered at one of the gas stations including pulled pork sandwiches.  Not bad for being in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere (hmm.. wonder if I'll raise the ire of the townspeople like Jan Arden did regarding Oshawa when she got kicked off of Via Rail for having a dog on board).

More big things to come in another blog, but for now, we're heading up to English Island where I hope I don't become a tasty snack for actual monster mosquitoes!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    I'd love to get in touch with you about getting permission to use one of your photos of the mosquito sculpture in Upsala in an upcoming children's book that I'm working on. If you're interested, please email me at

    Thanks very much and I hope to hear from you soon.

    Erin Haggett
    Assistant Editor
    Scholastic Canada Ltd.