Rural treasure hunt: A reading week road trip

By in Culture

Reading week is an excellent time to get away from classes and de-stress — what better way than to go on a road trip? This off-beat route is perfect for University of Saskatchewan students wanting to discover a side of the province far different than Saskatoon.

That side, of course, is small town Saskatchewan, where the culture varies wildly from that of the city. This province was built off of the small town model, and to get a true look at what Saskatchewan is about as a whole, start with the basics.

Of course, every good road trip needs a near-arbitrary reason for embarking on the journey in the first place. For this road trip, the goal is to visit as many small town big statues as possible within the span of reading week.

Many small towns in Saskatchewan have some sort of oversized statue or monument which serves as a tourist draw or point of local pride. These range from having historical significance to simply displaying an important part of the culture found there, and each has it’s own story. We aren’t going to spill the secrets, though — these stories are yours to discover during this true Saskatchewan Road-Trip---Caitlin-Taylorroad trip.

Day 1: Six hours 46 minutes driving time, 540 kilometres.

Starting from Saskatoon, this leg begins by travelling out to Warman to see their huge train sign — yes, exactly what it sounds like. Next, move on to Osler to spot a vintage car sitting atop a pole. From there, make your way to Waldheim, where the town got really creative. Partially buried trucks sticking out of the ground is your first go-to sight, but don’t miss their land-locked dolphin fountain either.

The path then leads to Middle Lake, where they have replicas of the Flintstone and Rubble family vehicles from the popular cartoon The Flintstones. Which one will you choose to sit in to snap the perfect picture? Then, travel to Tisdale and find yourself at the site of a large honeybee statue. Also while you’re in Tisdale, you might as well stop for snacks at the largest 7-Eleven in Canada!

Once you’re fully equipped with enough beef jerky to feed a small army, drive to Porcupine Plain to see the aptly named Quilly Willy, a porcupine statue. The final destination of this leg of the journey is Sturgis to see their statues of a cowboy on a horse and two park patrol members on a motorcycle.

Day 2: Six hours 29 minutes total driving time, 599 kilometres.

Leaving from Sturgis, the second day of this trip begins with The Doors to Opportunity and Misguided Miss-All, both strange statues in Yorkton.  Moving on from there, the next stop is Langenburg, where you can stretch your legs at Goliath, the World’s Highest Swing, and while it’s likely not recommended, you could probably break some childhood records by having a contest to see who can travel the furthest by jumping off the swing.

Next up is Tantallon to see their statue of a whitetail deer. Then, found in Rocanville is the World’s Largest Oil Can and a large diamond statue. Is this because the town is rich in diamonds? The site of a famous heist? You’ll have to visit to find out.

The next stop after that has quite the story behind it. Kipling is home to a giant red paperclip statue which commemorates a Saskatchewan news story about how one man did something that made people province-wide take a second look at their mortgage.

Then, find a challenger to Saskatoon’s title of “Paris of the prairies” in Montmartre, which houses an Eiffel Tower replica — which of course could be used to fool your Instagram followers into thinking you spent reading week in France. Finally, end the day in Avonlea, where Roughriders fans can rejoice to find a Gainer the gopher statue, as well as a large arrowhead and lily.

Day 3: Seven hours two minutes total driving time, 545 kilometres.

The first stop today, while not necessarily a small town, is home to quite a few statues. In Moose Jaw you can find two large statues, one known as Mac the Moose and the other simply as Bob,  as well as the Sukanen ship. Why is the statue named Bob? Why did somebody build a houseboat in landlocked Saskatchewan? All great questions you’ll need to use your sleuthing skills to answer!

Then, visible from the highway is Mortlach’s town sign, made notable by the large fiddle it features. Next, experience some nature that is certainly larger than life in Chaplin, where they have not one but two oversized bird statues, specifically a piping plover and an American avocet — but the hashtag “#superbigbirds” will suffice. The next stop also features animals, with the metal buffalo and whale in Tugaske.

At this point, it’s probably time to stop for a cup of joe, so why not do so in Davidson, where a coffee pot and cup statue can be found. Also featured in Davidson is a statue of a Métis fiddler and an oxcart, sans the ox. The penultimate stop on this trip is in Watrous where there is a statue of railway men. Last but not least, the final stop is Allan, where there is a combine placed upon a structure holding it high in the air.

Thus, you have completed your road trip scavenger hunt and can return to Saskatoon with enough Saskatchewan trivia to impress all your friends with — plus more than enough quirky pictures for a great new Facebook profile picture.

According to Google Maps, this course will take 19 hours and 18 minutes of solid driving and spans 1606 kilometres. Not too ambitious for reading break, but definitely not a quick day trip. Also worth noting is that this path does not even come close to visiting every large statue in Saskatchewan — it doesn’t even cover the world’s largest turtle statue in Turtleford!

Throughout this road trip you will be exposed to one of the more perplexing aspects of small town Saskatchewan, and seeing the various quirky statues each small town erected will likely beg the question as to why they were built. While you could certainly Google everything on this list to find out why it’s there, wouldn’t it be more fun to hit the road and find the wise old shopkeeper instead to get an authentic recounting of the events? Happy hunting!

Jack Thompson

Photo: Caitlin Taylor / Photo Editor