Transcript: Ontario's Roadside Attractions | Aug 20, 2021

Jeyan Jeganathan sits behind a glass desk in a tv studio. Warmly lit blue panels, and a monitor displaying the ‘Ontario Hubs’ logo are behind him.

Jeyan wears a black suit with a white dress shirt and a grey tie. He has short dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard.

Text reads, Visiting Ontario’s Roadside Attractions.

Jeyan says, ONTARIO'S NATURAL
SPLENDORS ARE MANY AND DIVERSE.
BUT THIS SUMMER, OUR ONTARIO
HUBS PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON SOME
OF THE WONDERS THAT AREN'T
NATURALLY OCCURRING.
HERE TO EXPLAIN, TVO.ORG EDITOR
NATHANIEL BASEN FROM THE WEST
END OF TORONTO. HEY, NAT.

Nathaniel says, HI, JEYAN.

Nathaniel sits in front of three framed posters on a grey wall.
He wears an olive-green polo shirt and has short curly brown hair.

Text reads, The Significance of Landmarks.

Jeyan says, SO THE MESSAGING
THIS SUMMER HAS BEEN TO VACATION
LOCALLY. THAT'S THE MESSAGE HERE
IN THIS PROVINCE OF ONTARIO.
THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDED GRANTS
TO TRAVEL AND TOURISM BUSINESSES
TO HELP FACILITATE THAT. WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT THESE LANDMARKS.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF
THESE LANDMARKS BESIDES BEING
THESE QUIRKY ATTRACTIONS ON THE
SIDE OF THE ROAD?

Text reads, Nathaniel Basen. Editor, tvo.org

Nathaniel says, YEAH.
SO OBVIOUSLY TVO.org WRITERS AND EDITORS
HAVE BEEN CROSSING THE PROVINCE
LOOKING FOR THESE LARGE THINGS,
16 IN TOTAL, AND WHAT'S GREAT
ABOUT THEM IS THAT THEY'RE ALL
QUITE DIFFERENT, RIGHT?
SOME ARE ANIMALS, SOME ARE
FOODSTUFFS, SOME ARE PUBLICLY
OWNED, SOME ARE ON PRIVATE
BUSINESSES.
BUT THEY ALL TELL A SMALL STORY
ABOUT THE REGION OR THE PEOPLE
WHO BUILT IT.
WHAT WE'VE LEARNED IS THAT ALL
OF THEM AT SOME POINT HAD
SOMEONE WHO BADLY WANTED THEM
BUILT AND THOSE PEOPLE TEND TO
HAVE PRETTY INTERESTING STORIES.

Jeyan says, NOW, TVO.org HAS
BEEN RUNNING A SERIES OF
ARTICLES ABOUT THESE
ATTRACTIONS.
IT'S A GREAT SERIES.
IT IS CALLED THE ROADSIDE
ATTRACTION SHOWDOWN.
GREAT TITLE FOR THAT.
AND OF COURSE OUR VIEWERS AND
READERS CAN GET AN OPPORTUNITY
TO VOTE LATER THIS MONTH ON
THEIR FAVOURITE.

An article title on the TVO website reads, Roadside Attraction Showdown: Gravenhurst’s Muskoka Chair.
Text reads, tvo.org/OntarioHubs.

Jeyan says, I KNOW THIS HAS SPURRED SOME
FRIENDLY COMPETITION AMONG THE
WRITERS AND EDITORS.
CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE BIT OF
AN OVERVIEW OF THE LANDMARKS
THAT ARE GOING TO BE FEATURED?

Text reads, Nathaniel Basen @NathanielBasen

Nathaniel says, YEAH.
SO, THEY'RE ALL ACROSS THE
PROVINCE.
SOME THAT PEOPLE HAVE HEARD OF, SOME
THEY PROBABLY HAVEN'T.
THERE'S THE WAWA GOOSE, THE BIG
NICKEL IN SUDBURY, OF COURSE,
AND HUSKY THE MUSKIE IN KENORA,
A MAMMOTH CHEESE IN PERTH.
SO THEY REALLY KIND OF RUN THE
GAMUT.

Jeyan says, I UNDERSTAND NICK
DUNNE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT THE
BIG NICKEL AND HAS BEEN
ADVOCATING FOR THAT.
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ONES YOU'VE
WRITTEN ABOUT.
THIS IS THE PHOTO OF THE GIANT
MUSKOKA CHAIR IN GRAVENHURST.
THIS ISN'T OBVIOUSLY THE
FINISHED PRODUCT. I SEE TWO GUYS
HERE BUT HOW BIG IS THIS CHAIR?

A photograph shows two men in a warehouse standing in front of a huge wooden Muskoka chair.

Nathaniel says, SO THE CHAIR IS
VERY LARGE.
IT IS MORE THAN 20 FEET TALL.
IT TOOK 800 FEET OF CEDAR AND
1400 SQUARE FEET OF PLYWOOD.
YOU SEE IT THERE IN THE
WAREHOUSE.
IT HAD TO BE BUILT IN SECTIONS
BECAUSE IT COULDN'T FIT
ALL TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME.

Jeyan says, VERY, VERY
IMPRESSIVE.
THIS CHAIR ACTUALLY HAS A VERY
INTERESTING STORY.
IT ACTUALLY HAS TO DO WITH -- I
BELIEVE THE STORY STARTS WITH A
SERIES OF TORNADOES.
TELL US ABOUT THAT.

Text reads, Gravenhurst’s Muskoka Chairs.

Nathaniel says, YES, SO SOME
PEOPLE MIGHT REMEMBER THAT ON
AUGUST 20TH, 2009, 19 TORNADOES
TOUCHED DOWN IN ONTARIO AND PUT
10 MILLION PEOPLE UNDER A
TORNADO WATCH.
ONE OF THOSE TORNADOES RIPPED
THROUGH GRAVENHURST AND TORE UP
A VERY LARGE BUT NOT GIANT
MUSKOKA CHAIR THAT BELONGED TO
THE OWNER OF THE LOCAL HOME
HARDWARE.
WHEN IT GOT DESTROYED, THE OWNER
DECIDED I’M GONNA BUILD IT BACK,
I WANT IT TO BE THE BIGGEST IN THE WORLD,
AND SO HE DID IT.
HE CALLED UP A PERSON HE WORKED
WITH BEFORE NAMED CRAIG JOHNSON
WHO WAS AN INMATE AT BEAVER
CREEK INSTITUTION NEARBY FOR A
STRING OF BANK ROBBERIES AND HE
SAID, CAN YOU BUILD ME THE
WORLD'S LARGEST CHAIR?
AND CRAIG SAID ABSOLUTELY.
AND SO EVERY DAY BETWEEN 8 AND
4, CRAIG WOULD LEAVE THE
INSTITUTION, GO TO THE
WAREHOUSE, BUILD THE CHAIR, AND
THEN GO HOME AT FOUR, YEAH.

Jeyan says, NAT, YOU TALKED
ABOUT CRAIG JOHNSON.
HOW PROUD IS HE TO SEE HIS GIANT
MUSKOKA CHAIR?

Nathaniel says, YEAH.
SO, I SPOKE WITH CRAIG LAST WEEK.
HE'S STILL SERVING TIME.
HE'S REALLY PROUD.
HE LOVES THE IDEA OF SOMETHING
WITH HIS NAME ATTACHED TO IT
THAT IS A GOOD THING BECAUSE, AS
HE SAYS, WHEN YOU GOOGLE HIS
NAME, ALL YOU REALLY SEE ARE
NEGATIVES.
I THINK HE'S REALLY JUST HAPPY
TO HAVE THAT ATTACHED TO HIS
NAME FOR AS LONG AS IT LASTS.

Jeyan says, I UNDERSTAND THAT
THIS CHAIR ITSELF ORIGINALLY WAS
OUTSIDE OF A HARDWARE STORE.
IT DOES HAVE A NEW LOCATION AS
WELL.
SO IF SOMEONE IS IN THE AREA,
WHERE CAN WE FIND IT?

Nathaniel says, YEAH, IT'S BEEN
MOVED TO THE PARKING LOT OF
SAWDUST CITY BREWERIES.
YOU CAN GO AND HAVE A BEER AND
SIT IN THE CHAIR.

Jeyan says, A VERY, VERY STEEP
SLOPE.
ENJOY RESPONSIBLY.
I WANT TO PULL UP ANOTHER PHOTO
OF ANOTHER FAIRLY BIG
ATTRACTION.
THIS IS BIG BRUCE.
HOW BIG IS THIS BOY HERE?

A photograph shows a large statue of a brown and white bull standing atop a stone platform.

Nathaniel says, BIG BRUCE IS
PRETTY BIG.
20 FEET LONG, 15 FEET TALL, AND
WEIGHS A HECK OF A LOT.

Text reads, Chesley’s Big Bruce.

Jeyan says, NOW, I UNDERSTAND --
I UNDERSTAND BIG BRUCE IS IN
BRUCE COUNTY SO HE WAS PROBABLY
NAMED AFTER THAT.
I UNDERSTAND THERE'S SOME
SIGNIFICANCE WITH THE FARMING
INDUSTRY THERE AS WELL.
TELL US ABOUT THAT STORY.

Nathaniel says, YEAH, SO A MAN
BY THE NAME OF HARVEY DAVIS WHO
WAS A WARDEN OF BRUCE COUNTY IN
THE 1970s WAS TRAVELLING IN
THE STATES, PROBABLY WISCONSIN,
BUT WE'RE NOT ENTIRELY SURE,
WHEN HE CAME ACROSS BIG BRUCE
DOING SOMETHING THERE.
HE DECIDED I NEED TO HAVE THIS.
AND SO HE TALKED TO THE PERSON
WHO OWNED THE BULL AND THEY SAID
THEY'D PART WITH IT FOR A FEW
THOUSAND DOLLARS.
HE CAME BACK TO BRUCE COUNTY.
HE TALKED TO THE LOCAL
CATTLEMEN'S ASSOCIATION AND
ASKED THEM IF THEY'D PAY FOR IT.
AT FIRST THEY WERE A LITTLE
HESITANT, SO HE SAID, WHATEVER,
I'LL BUY IT.
AND AT THAT POINT THE
CATTLEMEN'S ASSOCIATION CAVED
AND BOUGHT IT.
THEY USED BIG BRUCE TO TOUR
AROUND THE PROVINCE IN A GOLDEN
TRAILER IN ADVANCE OF THE 1976
INTERNATIONAL PLOWING MATCH.
IT'S A FARMING EVENT THAT BRINGS
100,000 PEOPLE TO THE AREA.

Jeyan says, I UNDERSTAND BIG
BRUCE IS QUITE A FAN FAVOURITE.
THEY'VE ACTUALLY INTRODUCED -- I
DON'T KNOW IF TWO COWS CREATES A
HERD, BUT I UNDERSTAND THAT NOW
THERE HAS BEEN AN ADDITION TO
BIG BRUCE.
TELL US ABOUT THAT STORY.

Nathaniel says, TWO BULLS, LET'S
MAKE SURE WE'RE CLEAR ABOUT
THAT -- IT DOESN'T MAKE A HERD.
HARVEY DIED IN 1980 AND HIS SON
MARK ENDED UP BECOMING THE
DEPUTY MAYOR.
FOR THE 2008 INTERNATIONAL
PLOWING MATCH, THE COUNCIL
COMMISSIONED LITTLE BRUCE, WHO
IS SMALLER, JUST 6 FEET TALL BUT
STILL, YOU KNOW, LARGE, AND THEN
AFTER THE CATTLE ASSOCIATION AND
THE PLOWING MATCH, THEY
AUCTIONED IT OFF FOR JUST OVER
$5,000 WITH THE PROCEEDS GOING
TO LOCAL CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS,
AND MARK WITH THE PRODDING OF
PRESENT FAMILY DECIDED TO BUY
IT.
SO NOW LITTLE BRUCE LIVES WITH
HARVEY'S SON.

Jeyan says, I’VE GOTTA ASK, YOU'VE WRITTEN A FEW
STORIES ABOUT SOME LANDMARKS AND
YOU'VE ALSO GOT A CHANCE TO READ
SOME OF THE OTHERS.
IS THERE SOMETHING THAT YOU'VE
LEARNED ABOUT SOME OF THESE
ATTRACTIONS THAT YOU NEVER
THOUGHT OR SOME REALLY
INTERESTING STORIES? I'M NOT
GOING TO SHARE MY FAVOURITE
JUST YET BECAUSE I KNOW VOTING
HASN'T STARTED YET. BUT ANYTHING
INTERESTING THAT'S POPPED UP
FROM THE OTHER STORIES?

Nathaniel says, YEAH, I MEAN THE
BIGGEST THING FOR ME IS JUST
THAT THEY'VE BEEN SURPRISINGLY
TOUCHING.
I JUST DIDN'T THINK THAT THEY
WOULD BE SO SORT OF EMOTIONAL
STORIES AND THEY ALL HAVE BEEN.
THEY OFTEN TELL THE STORIES OF
JUST GREAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRIED
TO MAKE THE PROVINCE BETTER AND
SO THAT'S BEEN REALLY NICE.
BUT, YEAH, IT'S GOTTEN PRETTY
COMPETITIVE IN THE TEAM GROUP
CHAT SO I'M GOING TO KEEP MY
INTENTIONS AND MY FAVOURITES
PRIVATE.

Jeyan says, I WANT TO MAKE SURE
WE GET THE VOTING RIGHT.
VIEWERS AND READERS CAN VOTE
AUGUST 30TH ON TVO.org ON
THEIR FAVOURITE ROADSIDE
ATTRACTION SHOWDOWN.
I'VE GOT TO ASK SINCE YOU'VE
SEEN AND READ ENOUGH ABOUT THESE
LANDMARKS, HAVE YOU SEEN ANY OF
THESE LANDMARKS IN PERSON AND
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD
ROADSIDE ATTRACTION.
IS THERE A CRITERIA?

Text reads, tvo.org/theagenda AgendaConnect@tvo.org

Nathaniel says, YES.
SO, THESE LANDMARKS -- I'VE SEEN
A LOT IN PERSON BUT NOT FOR
PURPOSES OF THIS COMPETITION.
TO ME, THE BEST LANDMARKS ARE,
ONE, THEY'VE GOT TO BE BIG,
THEY'VE GOT TO BE HUGE, THAT'S
THEIR WHOLE THING.
AND THE MORE UNIQUE, THE BETTER.
I LIKE ANIMALS.
I LIKE THE MUSKIE AND I LIKE THE
BULL AND OBVIOUSLY THE BACKSTORY
IS A PLUS.

Jeyan says, ALL RIGHT. WELL, WE WILL
KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON THAT.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, NAT, FOR
JOINING US TODAY.

Nathaniel says, THANK YOU.

Text reads, Produced by Carla Lucchetta @Carrletta

The red and blue Ontario Hubs logo appears over a white background.
Text reads, Ontario Hubs are made possible by: The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman.

Watch: Ontario's Roadside Attractions