Canada is famous for a number of “World’s Largest” attractions. They can be found everywhere from coast to coast, and some are rather impressive! In Colborne, Ontario, there is a Big Apple you can see from the highway; Vegreville, Alberta hosts the second largest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter Egg) in the world; the winner of the Guinness Book of World Records for largest hockey stick is in Duncan, British Columbia; and the world’s largest fiddle at the Port of Sydney, Nova Scotia. These are only a few of these gigantic monuments in Canada!
I don’t know why we like to build big stuff. I suspect it has to do with the fact that there are is a lot of rural space between large Canadian cities and most have been built along major roadways (mostly The TransCanada Highway) as ways to bring tourist dollars into these small towns.
Heck, even the capital has an enormous spider. But in this case, I believe it’s “art”.
When I was younger I went to Sudbury and got to visit the Big Nickel. The main attraction is a 30 foot-tall replica of a Canadian five cent coin.
There was also a nickel mine tour, which we got to experience by travelling underground in a cage elevator and learn about mining. We could even send a postcard to ourselves from inside the mine.
So, all this time (almost 30 years) I thought I visited a real nickel mine. Imagine my disappointment when I read about the Big Nickel today for this blog post! Apparently, the Big Nickel was conceived by a fireman named Ted Szilva in 1963, who proposed a giant nickel, a mine and a mining centre to commemorate Canada’s Centennial in response to a public contest.
His idea was shot down, but Szilva decided he was going to do it anyway. He bought land, fought city councillors, sold mail-order coins, and persisted with his dream. Finally, the Big Nickel was unveiled in July of 1964, followed by the model mine in 1965. The mine saw 100,000 visitors a year, and combined a roadside attraction with an educational experience. I was twelve when I visited the mine, and the experience is one of those that I still remember.