Roadside-attraction showdown: And the winner is…

You voted. Now it’s time to find out which landmark will wear the showdown crown
By Sarah Sweet - Published on Sep 07, 2021
Left: Big Bruce (Courtesy of Mark Davis) Right: Husky the Muskie (Wikimedia Commons/Pclerkin)

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The moment is here.

Since early July, TVO.org has been highlighting Ontario’s roadside attractions — and the stories behind them. 

We met a cheese that caused a commotion at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. A floral clock that serves as a gateway to the “the fourth dimension.” A Muskoka chair that came to be thanks to a tornado. A snowman with a hollow belly that provided shelter to locals looking to recover after a night on the town.

We heard of the trials and triumphs that made these landmarks possible.

Then we asked you to pick your favourites — and saw titans fall: Sudbury’s Big Nickel failed to make the finals. So did Colborne’s Big Apple.

In the end, only two remained: Kenora’s Husky the Muskie and Chesley’s Big Bruce.

Agenda segment, August 20, 2021: Ontario's roadside attractions

TVO.org reporter Charnel Anderson and associate editor Nathaniel Basen weren't surprised these two made the cut.

“There’s a reason that muskies are one of the most prized game fish in Canada. They are fierce,” says Anderson, TVO.org's northwestern reporter. “But there’s a deeper lesson with Husky the Muskie, who, to me, represents the relationship between nature and the economy in the northwest. The water gives the muskie life, and the muskie in turn allows fishing resorts and guides to make a living. Just heed the monument’s motto: Husky the Muskie says, ‘Prevent Water Pollution.’” 

A man filming in The Agenda studio

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Basen says that his landmark, too, is more than just a larger-than-life attraction: “Being a prodigious hereford steer who once lived on a golden trailer should be enough. It might have been enough! But Big Bruce doesn't take any chances. So he also represents both an important regional story and a touching family one. Big Bruce is everything you want in a roadside attraction: he's big, he's attractive, he's roadside, and he tells you something about the area and the people who live there.”

But there could only be one.

And the winner is ...

CHESLEY'S BIG BRUCE

graphic showing the results of the voting
(Matthew O'Mara)

Anderson was gracious in defeat: “It’s bittersweet. To be honest, I was gunning for the

woman holding a cat in front of a giant goose statue
Charnel Anderson and her cat Meow visiting with the Wawa Goose. (Courtesy of Charnel Anderson)

Wawa Goose. That giant goose has punctuated many a road trips, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. That being said, I think Nat did a great job capturing the story behind Big Bruce — and it was a smart move to leverage his powerful online presence to secure the win. I don’t want to give Nat too much credit, though. I think the story of Big Bruce speaks for itself. It’s a lovely tribute to Harvey Davis, and it was awesome to see Bruce County rally for it’s cloven-hoofed bovine.”

And Basen was gracious in victory: “Despite what everyone is saying, this win is not about me or my powerful online presence: it's about the people of Bruce County and, most important, Mark Davis and his family. I'm truly glad that more people have had the chance to learn more about Harvey and Mark (and Little Bruce). That said, I'm thrilled to play a part in the crowning of a deserving champion.” 

Big Bruce was characteristically modest and articulate:

Congratulations to Big Bruce and to the community of Chesley!

But before you go ...

Our readers were quick to point out that some deserving landmarks didn't get a shot. So here are a number of roadside attractions that could well have been serious contenders.


Honourable mentions


giant mosquito carry a statue of a man
Upsala's Giant Mosquito Carrying a Man. (Suzanne Hanlon/flickr.com/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


elephant statue
Jumbo the Elephant, St. Thomas. (Doug Kerr/flickr.com/CC 2.0)
statues of wolves and moose
Hearst's Moose vs. wolves. (Hearst1958/wikimedia.org/CC 4.0)
tin unicorn
Massey's unicorn. (Al/flickr.com/CC 2.0)

Ontario Hubs are made possible by the Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman.

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