The world’s largest handheld beater, a UFO landing pad, and a giant beaver all have one thing in common—they can all be found on roadsides across Canada. From the weird and wacky, to the well-known and historic, here are the top stops you should make on any road trip across the country.
It doesn’t get much more Canadian than the world’s largest hockey puck and stick. Located on Vancouver Island in Duncan, the giant sporting equipment was originally built for Expo ’86. (Duncan is also home of one of the world’s largest totem poles.) Drive a little further north toward Comox, and you’ll pass by the “goats on the roof” at Coombs Old County Market—which is exactly what it’s billed as. Back on the mainland, make sure you get a good look at you pass through Golden; at 1643 metres, it’s the highest point on the Trans-Canada Highway.
With a history steeped in Eastern European heritage, roadside attractions play homage to these early immigrants. In Vegreville, you can see the world’s largest pysanka (Ukranian Easter egg). Mundare, a short drive away, is home to a giant kubasa (garlic sausage) and further north is Glendon’s giant pyrogy, complete with giant fork. But Southern Alberta is where things get really quirky. At Torrington’s Gopher Hole Museum, between Edmonton and Calgary, taxidermied critters in costume engage in a variety of activities, from hunting to attending church.
You may think “flat” when you think Saskatchewan, but just south of the Trans-Canada Trail is the highest elevation between the Rockies and Labrador, in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Be sure to make a stop in Moosejaw (home of Mac the giant moose) to see the Tunnels of Moosejaw, an attraction that explores the history of prohibition-era bootleggers, including Al Capone.
In Winnipeg, swing through Assiniboine Park to see the statue of Winnie the Pooh’s namesake. While the geographic centre of Canada lies somewhere in Nunavut, the longitudinal centre is just east of Winnipeg, in Taché. While only a roadside sign currently marks the spot, plans for a “Centre of Canada Park” are underway.
With the most kilometres on the Trans-Canada located within this province, there’s no shortage of “giants” or “greats” to visit, so it’s best to focus on Canadiana. In Thunder Bay, Canada’s hero Terry Fox is immortalized as a nine-foot tall bronze statue, while Sudbury is home to the Big Nickel. Finally, the highway will take you straight through the nation’s capital, Ottawa, before you cross into Quebec.
Home to some of the first settlements in history, there are endless historical monuments and buildings as you pass through, some dating back to the 1500s. One of the most breathtaking is the historic fortified community of Quebec City, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Gaspé Peninsula is considered “the birthplace of Canada,” and it’s here that you can find the Jacques Cartier Monument.
It’s hard to pass through New Brunswick without stopping at the Bay of Fundy and the much-photographed Hopewell Rocks. If you can stomach one more “world’s largest,” be sure to check out the 35-foot lobster in Shediac.
For winding roads and scenic vistas, follow the Lighthouse Trail out of Halifax to Peggy’s Cove or make a loop up through Cape Breton. Here, you’ll find the Fortress of Louisbourg, as well as a museum at the former home of Alexander Graham Bell.
Prince Edward Island
Avonlea fans rejoice—here you can see the White Sands Hotel (Dalvay by the Sea), Anne’s House, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace, and Cavendish Beach. Don’t forget to visit the Canadian Potato Museum, complete with—you guessed it—a giant potato out front.
The giant squid in Glover's Harbour is actually a life-size replica of the record-breaking squid that was caught in the area in 1878. But be warned: Once you see this giant roadside attraction (which measures 55-feet in length) you might not want to go swimming in the nearby waters.