You voted for your favorite Manitoba roadside attractions in our March Roadside Madness bracket (shout out to the champion Flintabbatey Flonatin, the cheery prospector from Flin Flon). And now, why not hit the road to see these larger than life attractions? Enjoy the scenery, stop in at local shops and restaurants, and snap a pic with these local mascots. Choose from one of the five easy road trips options below, or plan your own monumental tour – like Twitter user’s #shaunaslandmarkchallenge, which covered 821 km and 17 towns in 12 hours.
The giants of the Interlake
A drive through Manitoba’s Interlake region offers some scaly, stoic, silly and slithery statues. Start in Selkirk, just north of Winnipeg to see Chuck the Channel Cat. At 11 metres high, Chuck is quite the catch. In fact, the catfishing here is some of the best in North America. Then continue north on Hwy 8 or 9, with the latter providing some great views as you approach Lake Winnipeg to Gimli. The town’s giant Viking statue proudly watches over the heart of New Iceland. Learn more about the Icelandic heritage of the area at the New Iceland Heritage Museum and grab some lunch at Amma’s Tea Room. Leave room for dessert – the classic vinetarta. Then head to Arborg, home of the world’s largest curling rock, weighing in a one and a half tonnes. Hurry hard 45 minutes south to Inwood, home to Sam and Sara Snake. See some real live slithering snakes at the nearby Narcisse Snake Dens. Warm spring days are the best time to see thousands of red-sided garter snakes.
Sand, wind and fire
Take a trip through southwestern Manitoba to visit some quirky roadside monuments. Stop at Elm Creek to see the world’s largest fire hydrant, built by volunteer firefighters. Drive down the highway to St. Claude to see the Smoking Pipe. While in town, visit the Saint-Claude Roman Catholic Church, designed by renowned architect Etienne Gaboury, as well as the former gaol, now a museum. A further 30 minutes will take you to Holland and its Windmill. Stop for some home-cooked lunch at the Hollander Motor Hotel. The final stop on this road trip is in Glenboro to see Sara the Camel – runner-up in our Roadside Madness bracket. This 17-foot camel looks north towards Manitoba’s nearby desert, the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Stop by the village office for a self-guided walking tour brochure and stretch your legs before heading back.
Between a rock and a horse place
Enjoy a leisurely drive to Gladstone, home of the aptly named Happy Rock. Stop by the information centre (open summers only) to purchase a keychain, glass or pin adorned by the Happy Rock’s smiling face. Then head half an hour south to Austin to see its full size Steam Engine perched at the community’s entrance. Get an even closer look at pioneer life on the prairies at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum. Then turn east on Hwy 1 to reach Portage la Prairie and its giant Coke Can, a former water tower. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the scenic Island Park before a 40 minute drive to the see the White Horse of St. Francois Xavier. Steeped in local folklore, the White Horse is a symbol of the community’s rich cultural roots. Visit the Whitehorse Emporium, Manitoba’s biggest gift shop before wrapping up your road trip.
This eastern Manitoba road trip visits some iconic animal attractions. Head to Dominion City, home of the world’s largest sturgeon. This statue is an original size reproduction of the biggest sturgeon ever recorded in Manitoba – a massive beast at 406 lbs and 15.5 feet. Cross over the nearby Roseau River on the Swinging Cable Bridge, now part of the Trans Canada Trail. A half hour drive back to Hwy 59 will take you to St. Malo and its tribute to local wildlife – a statue of a white-tailed deer. You might even see some during a visit to the St. Malo Provincial Park. Next, visit Grunthal, where a bison stand tall in recognition this animal’s important role in Manitoba’s history. Then head to La Broquerie to see its Holstein Cow, which marks the area’s dairy production. Celebrate this community’s strong Franco-Manitoban roots at its annual Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste in June.
Manitoba’s Parkland region is known for its wilderness and friendliness, as you’ll discover on this roadside road trip. Start in Onanole to see the town’s majestic Elk. There are over thousand elk that live in the area which includes the next-door Riding Mountain National Park. Visit the first general store of the area, now known as Poor Michael’s Emporium. Enjoy a coffee on the patio before heading off to McCreary to visit Apline Archie. This one and a half tonne skier is a nod to the community hosting the alpine events of the 1979 Canada Winter Games. Hop back in the car and head to Dauphin to see the Amisk – the Cree word for beaver. This 16-foot beaver is located at the south end of the town, which home to Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in July. The next friendly face on trip is just 20 minutes down Hwy 5 – Gilbert the Golf Ball in Gilbert Plains. Gilbert, who is wearing the Ross tartan in honour of one of the town’s first residents Gilbert Ross, is actually a multisport athlete – look closely and you’ll see he’s holding a hockey stick. Enjoy the valley views on the 18 holes of the Gilbert Plains Country Club located between Riding Mountain and Duck Mountain Provincial Park.