Northeastern Ontario takes roadside kitsch to a whole other level, and it could be because we know the value of fun on those long road trips. Call it weird, or call it Canadian folk art; these roadside attractions are beckoning you in to their welcoming towns, and most of them have a story to tell.
If you find yourself stoping to pose with one of our roadside attractions, tag us using #WeirdNeOnt on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
View Roadside Attractions in a larger map
Oh, large weird roadside attractions, how we like you:
The Big Nickel
The Big Nickel is, well, big! It's 64 million times larger than the nickel you'd find in your pocket. The huge coin was originally built in 1964, just outside of Sudbury city limits, because builder Ted Silva couldn't obtain a permit for such a large build in town. These days, the whole family can learn first hand about mining at Dynamic Earth, which is right next to it.
Big Joe Muffraw
Joe is a French Canadian hero from Ottawa Valley folklore, who has a Paul Bunyan-esque background. Canadian authors have written about Big Joe, and described him as a strongman, a logger, and defender of the oppressed French Canadian loggers. He can be found towering at Explorers Point in Mattawa along with 11 other statues.
Welcome Walleye of Marten River
As you're driving Highway 11 nearing Marten River, expect to be welcomed by a large toothy grin. The welcome walleye is in right front of Rock Pine Motel, and has recently gotten a makeover – so he's ready for his close up.
That's Ms. to you! Ms. Claybelt is a gigantic cow located in New Liskeard, grazing on the edge of Highway 11 right next to, er, McDonald's. She symbolizes the fertile farmlands in New Liskeard, which are a result of the Claybelt. The naming committee made the progressive choice to name her Ms. Claybelt, not Miss, or Mrs. You know, in case you'd like to address her.
Just down Highway 11 you'll find Manitou, the very big bison roaming in Earlton. You might be thinking, what does a bison have to do a small town in Northeastern Ontario? At one time Manitou guarded the entrance to the Earlton Zoo and wildlife park, which have since closed.
Guy-Paul sits 20 feet tall, next to the Iroquois Falls information centre on Highway 11. He's a legendary lumberjack and French-Canadian storyteller from the area. Many travellers have commented on his questionable hand gesture, but the town of Iroquois Falls has since made an official statement to the contrary.
As you roll in to Cochrane, meet Chimo. Chimo means "Be Welcomed" in Cree, and he certainly is welcoming for a polar bear. Also in Cochrane: the Polar Bear Express train, which makes regular trips to Moosonee, on the James Bay Coast.
Flying Saucer Sighting in Moonbeam
The village of Moonbeam got its name from pioneers who often saw flashing lights in the skies which they called "moonbeams." Since then, the terms Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis have gained popularity, and the village decided to embrace its given name. A flying saucer can be found next to the information centre, and we hear it has a tiny martian mascot named Kilo.
Muskwa (meaning 'bear' in Cree) protects the Kapuskasing information centre, just off Highway 11. He represents the cultural significance of hunting in the Kapuskasing area. It's said he also represents one of largest bears killed in the area, but rest assured there are no bears quite as big as Muskwa.
Don't forget, if you're in the Northeastern Ontario area and snap a photo with one of our weird-yet-lovable roadside attractions, tag us using #WeirdNeOnt.