The Giants of Alberta
Alberta, Canada, is home to many unique attractions. However, one of the oddest of them all is a collection of giant roadside attractions.
Dubbed the “Giants of the Prairie” by a local folk band, the Kubasonics, these oddities draw numerous visitors each year. Surprisingly, there are more giants than you may initially think.
Some of the Giants of the Prairie make sense regarding what the region offers. For instance, Wainwright has their giant buffalo, an obvious nod to their history of conservation efforts.
But what about the world’s most enormous badminton racket outside of St. Albert? Or the giant mallard at Andrew, Alberta?
The Masters of the Giants
It’s important first to ask where the giants even originated. Most of these infamous roadside attractions are thanks to our local Ukrainian immigrants.
When outsiders think of “Canada,” they often think of those with French or Scottish ethnicities. However, immigrants and descendants of Ukrainian families are among the top ten largest groups in our country.
Representing Ukrainian culture is difficult. Unfortunately, much of the traditions, food, and music comes from blending neighbouring cultures, and the Soviets further buried their identity.
As a result, this large immigrant base needed something unique to show pride in their citizenship. And as the saying goes, they went big rather than going home.
The Ukrainians of Alberta
Ukrainian immigrants have been a part of Alberta, and by association, Andrew, for generations. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find too much of their influence early on in our history.
Much as the United States did with their Asian population, Alberta, unfortunately, sent many Ukrainians to internment camps during World War I. For six years, any immigrants with Ukrainian-Hungarian heritage were considered “enemies” and were sent to internment camps unjustly.
Reparations did happen, and since then the Ukrainian citizens have been making the most of their lives here. A more significant wave of immigrants entered between World War II and the conflicts in the 1990s.
However, since the early days of World War I, these immigrants have found a much more welcoming home. In fact, their cultural influence can be seen all over, and not just in their giant statues.
Ukrainian Culture and Andrew
Even as far back as our first settlers, the Ukrainian immigrants were showing us how to live. Their early homes and structures were better suited for our climate, and we readily adopted their simple dugouts and then the more advanced cabins.
Some of their cuisines have overlap with other cultures. Kubasa, perogies, and even borscht shares their origins with many Eastern Bloc peoples.
Of the Giants of the Prairies, some of these traditional foods have representations. The giant kubasa sausage calls Mundare home, while the gigantic perogy statue is in Glendon.
Why Build the Giants?
Although Alberta has a decent enough population, tourism isn’t always the easiest industry to support. Our surrounding views are extraordinary, but it’s tough when towns are remote, and the weather becomes cold.
The Giants of the Prairie help bring attention to the communities. For instance, the town of Vegreville needs more than just Vegreville Ford
to bring people in!
Rather than hope visitors are searching for Ford vehicles for sale
, the town has the Vegreville Egg, a giant Easter egg like Russia’s Fabergé eggs.
While the people there will certainly help you purchase used vehicles
and new vehicles
at their Ford dealership
, it isn’t enough to generate buzz. But a giant roadside attraction is always helpful at forcing visitors to stop and take a gander.
The Mallard of Andrew
And speaking of “gander,” what about Andrew’s mallard? There may be other giant bird statues elsewhere, but Andrew has the greatest mallard in the world.
Although it’s unquestionably an animal, the influence of a fighter jet comes through. The wings are slanted mid-flight, reminiscent of a tactical flight mission.
Constructed in 1992, this massive duck is a nod to local conservation efforts. The surrounding wetlands are duck breeding grounds, and the statue serves as a reminder to be responsible while out in nature.
The bird is among the largest around. Just the wings alone span 23 feet!
Best of all, you can make an afternoon out of hunting the majestic mallard. The bird rises above a local children’s playground!
The massive bird may not be enough to keep your attention long. However, it is useful for at least capturing drivers’ attention long enough to pull over.
Once you’re done taking photos of the mallard, you may become enticed enough to spend some time discovering the town. Andrew may be small, but he’s full of surprises!
Ambling Through Andrew
The town of Andrew is small; in fact, we’re legally considered a “village”! We have much to see and do, however, despite our village status.
For starters, a trip to the Andrew Museum will shed light on how we came to be. From our first settler and namesake, Andrew Whitford, to our modern offerings, the local train station has many themed rooms and artifacts to discover.
Unique local shopping is also a frequent activity for our visitors. Local wineries, shops, and even car dealership
choices await, and the Saturday Farmer’s Market is open from spring to autumn.
Are you looking for a local place to grab a meal, and maybe a show? Try the Andrew Hotel.
If you’re waiting for a valet driver to take your new cars, you may be waiting a while. Despite the name, the Andrew Hotel is not a lodging destination.
The Andrew Hotel is a local watering hole that also features special events, shows, and live entertainment. This venue is among the most exciting choices in town!
Finally, if you’re interested in outdoor recreation, Andrew has you covered as well. We offer a variety of different parks, sports fields, and hiking trails.
Finally, Centennial Park is among the most beautiful. Here, flower gardens create a serene stroll or even a memorable wedding backdrop!