Roadside-attraction showdown: Kenora’s Husky the Muskie

The muskie may be the second-biggest fish in Ontario — but it’s the first-biggest fish in this northwestern city
By Charnel Anderson - Published on Aug 18, 2021
Husky the Muskie is 12 metres tall. (Wikimedia Commons/Pclerkin)

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Maybe you’ve already been to Niagara Falls or up to the top of the CN Tower. But have you made a pit stop near a giant goose? Or snapped a selfie next to a giant wheel of cheese?

Those are just a couple of the roadside attractions on offer in towns and cities across Ontario, which have devised unusual and eye-catching ways of setting their communities apart.

If you’re looking for summertime fun close to home, you can hit the road and check out these local legends. If you’re looking for summertime fun even closer to home, you can check in with TVO.org over the next two months — each week, we’ll be bringing you profiles of the weirdest, wackiest, and largest objects gracing Ontario’s roadways.

At the end of August, you’ll get the chance to pick your favourites when we open up the voting brackets. So travel Ontario with us, and get ready for a showdown.

Check out the other contestants here.



Among anglers, Lake of the Woods is renowned for its muskie — one of the most prized game fish in Canada — so perhaps the fact that Kenora’s waterfront boasts a 12-metre-tall muskellunge should come as no surprise. “It’s obviously not to scale,” explains Morgan Seller, special-events coordinator with the City of Kenora. “But it gives guests coming through Kenora a real idea of what occurs in the lake.” 

postcard with a giant fish sculpture and text reading "Greetings from Kenora, Ontario, home of 'Husky' the Muskie"
The massive muskellunge was built to mark Canada's centennial, in 1967. (hippostcard.com) 

Muskies, which can grow up to 1.3 metres in length and typically weigh between four and 11 kilograms, are the “biggest and most interesting” species in Kenora’s waters, according to Seller. “You don’t see as many muskies as you do other fish in our lake, so if you do catch one, it’s a big prize,” she says, adding that people don’t usually catch them to eat. 

The Muskie is the largest member of the pike family and the second-largest fish in Ontario, beaten out only by the lake sturgeon. They’re top predators, eating all varieties of fish (including other muskies), as well as ducklings, frogs, and muskrats. Run-ins with humans are rare, but not unheard of. Last year, a woman visiting Minaki, northwest of Kenora, was left with significant injuries after a muskie attack. “It was a big story in town,” Sellers says.

from left to right: man with giant fish statue; the statue in winter; the statue wearing a multicoloured skirt
From left to right: MPP Rod Phillips poses with Husky (Twitter/@RodPhillips01); Husky in winter (Twitter/@FergDevins); Husky participating in Kenora Pride 2019. (Twitter/@emilymcsorleyy)

The idea of building a massive muskellunge came from the Kenora District Chamber of Commerce, which had been looking for a way to celebrate Canada’s centennial, in 1967. The monument was designed and constructed by Jules Horvath and Bob Selway from Deluxe Design Signs and Displays. 

giant fish statue
Bill Brabrooke is credited for naming Husky the Muskie and coming up with its slogan: “Husky the Muskie says, ‘Prevent Water Pollution.’” (Courtesy of Morgan Seller)

The statue, dubbed Husky the Muskie, weighs two and a half tonnes, and, according to Daily Commercial News, required one tonne of steel, 36 sheets of plywood, 500 square feet of fibreglass, 3,500 bolts, and 700 pounds of resin. It took more than 1,000 hours to complete, at a cost of roughly $5,000. The muskie was constructed in two halves that were mounted on a steel I-beam settled in a concrete base. “Because it was very, very heavy, they had to hoist it, the two separate halves, and then weld them together on that I-beam,” Seller explains.

Over time, the muskie lost most of its colour, and it was refurbished in 1995. It’s once again due for “a little bit of a facelift,” Seller says. “That’s something the city is currently looking for … he is going to get some new colours.” 

Why does Husky the Muskie deserve the title of Ontario’s best roadside attraction? According to Seller, the answer is simple: A lot of roadside attractions are “mythical creatures, like Bigfoot,” she says. But “this is a real thing — a real fish in our lake.”

This is one in a series of stories about issues affecting northwestern Ontario. It's brought to you in partnership with Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology. Views and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the college. 

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

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