Really Big Roadside Attractions along the TransCanada Highway

Maybe it’s a North American thing, this propensity for erecting large monuments along cross-country highways and interstates. Perhaps the building of huge roadside attractions is connected to the mind-scrambling distance one must sometimes travel to get from point A to point B. These Big Things create a diversion for the traveler, a place to get out and stretch your legs. To snap a few shots of the monument. To visit the gift shop. We visited (and photographed) two of these distinctly Canadian monuments in July on our drive from Ottawa, Ontario to Calgary, Alberta.

1. Canada Goose in Wawa, Ontario
Wawa, a town in Northern Ontario, takes its name from the Ojibwe word for “wild goose”, wewe. In 1960, the last link of the Trans-Canada Highway was finally completed linking Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie and Western Canada. According to the Wawa Tourism site, “The folks in Wawa fought long and hard to see the road completed and although they were glad to see it reach their front doors, local businessmen were a bit disappointed that the highway actually by-passed the downtown core of the community.” What to do? Build a giant goose, of course. The first Wawa goose didn’t fare well in the extreme Wawa weather as it was made out of plaster. In 1963 the original goose was replaced with one made of steel. Apparently, this goose is one of the most photographed tourist sights in North America.

2. The World’s Largest Teepee in Medicine Hat, Alberta
Just south of the Trans-Canada Highway and overlooking the Blackfoot buffalo jump, we found the world’s tallest teepee, the “Saamis Tepee”. Designed for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary as a symbol of Canada’s Aboriginal heritage, the teepee was moved to Medicine Hat in 1991. It stands over 20 stories high. Although it was designed to withstand extreme temperatures and winds up to 240 km/h (150 mph) the teepee was damaged in a windstorm in the January of 2007 and is now 15 feet shorter. Canadian winter, eh?

What are your favourite roadside attractions?


  1. There was also a big moose in Moose Jaw, and somewhere else, there was a rather large trout. Not as big as the Wawa goose, mind you, maybe not even as big as Jaws, but for a trout, BIG.

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