There's a lot to learn about Saskatchewan through its roadside monuments!
Robin and Arlene Karpan are known for their many titles about Saskatchewan: The Great Saskatchewan Bucket List, Saskatchewan’s Best Hikes and Nature Walks, and Saskatchewan Scenic Drives, to name a few.
There's a lot to love about Larger Than Life: Saskatchewan’s BIG Roadside Monuments. The book tells the stories behind over 70 Saskatchewan monuments: the people who built them, the community that raised the funds, and the choices behind each statue.
Some of my personal favourites include:
- The World’s Largest Still in Vonda chosen for the town’s 90th anniversary in 1997 because “the area around Vonda was considered a moonshine hotbed.”
- Don Wilkins’s monuments along Louis Riel Trail (Highway 11) portray Metis life in the late 1800s. The Surveyor, The Buffalo Hunter, and The Bone Gatherer recall the impact of settlement on a traditional way of life.
- The World’s Largest Oil Can in Rocanville commemorates Ernie Symons’s oil can pump patented in 1923 and manufactured for decades. During the Second World War, 65,000 oilers per year were produced in town and at Winnipeg plant.
- Macklin’s World’s Largest Bunnock is 98 times the actual size of the horse ankle bone used to play the game bunnock.
- The Great Wall of Saskatchewan in Smiley took Albert “Stonewall” Johnson more than 20 years to build. It’s about a kilometre long, more than nine feet wide and seven feet high, made entirely by hand-placed stone.
The photography is very well done, but it’s too bad most of the photos are black and white; a colour insert gives a better idea of how bright many of these monuments are. I also would like to have seen a person standing next to the monument because it’s sometimes hard to grasp just how big these things are.
The book is 10 years old so some of these monuments may have changed and more have been added, including the World’s Largest Paper Clip in Kipling and The Eiffel Tower in Montmartre. But as a general record, it’s near perfect and especially a great read if Saskatchewan trivia amuses you.
About Robin and Arlene Karpan
Robin and Arlene Karpan are travel writers, photographers and book publishers based in Saskatoon. Their writing and photography have garnered them nine Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence, six of their books have become Canadian bestsellers, and both Robin and Arlene were presented with the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal by the province's Lieutenant-Governor in recognition of their work. To learn more about the Karpans, visit http://www.parklandpublishing.com.
Saskatchewan is a wide, weird, and wonderful place, as Prairies North writer Ruth Bitner knows from her travels -- read her story, “I’ve Been (Nearly) Everywhere)” in the Spring issue, available in our store.