11 Roadside Attractions in Northeastern Ontario

From giant lumberjacks to flying saucers, don't miss these giant roadside photo ops in The Seven.

Few destinations are as ideal for a road trip as Northeastern Ontario. That’s not just because of its dozens of friendly historic towns, lakeside drives, and bucket list adventures on offer. The also offers plenty of quirky surprises in the form of giant roadside attractions that make it hard not to pull over for a selfie. The vast Northeastern Ontario region is full of these fun stops—some of which are worth their own trip. 

Here are 11 of the best roadside attractions to mark on your map.

1. Big Joe Mufferaw

Mattawa, Ontario

A carved wooden statue of a French-Canadian logger, standing with his axehead resting on the ground and his foot up on a block of wood. Behind the statue is blue sky, a wooden building, and summer trees and grass.
Big Joe Mufferaw watches over Mattawa.

This French-Canadian logger and strongman was already a bit of a legend before being immortalized in a song by Stompin’ Tom Connors. He’s been credited with deeds including putting out a forest fire, paddling from Ottawa to Mattawa in a single day, and drinking a bucket of gin before taking on more than two dozen men. It’s no wonder this legendary figure of Ottawa Valley folklore has now been immortalized with a towering statue at Explorer’s Point, outside the Mattawa Museum. Standing tall at more than 19 feet, this hand-carved pine statue was erected in 2017 and is one of many fun things to check out in Mattawa.

2. The Big Nickel

Sudbury, Ontario

a person stands at the base of a the huge statue of a Canadian nickel in Sudbury, looking up at it.
The Big Nickel, emblem of Sudbury (and really good photo-op).

This 30-foot exact replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel, originally erected in 1964, has a fascinating backstory, beginning as a strange dream project of a local firefighter who wanted to honour the city’s deep connections to the mining industry (and we do mean deep, with Creighton Mine extending 2.42km down). Though initially part of the Canadian Centennial Numismatic Park, where it was accompanied by several other oversized coins, the Big Nickel has since moved to Dynamic Earth. The interactive science and geology center is well worth a visit — and offers plenty of appeal in addition to its famous three-storey-tall coin. 

3. Muskwa the Black Bear

Kapuskasing, Ontario

a large statue of a black bear, standing next to a boulder with metal letters on it that read "Kapuskasing", surrounded in green grass and trees. A brown wooden peak of a building and clear blue sky are in the background.
Muskwa, Kapuskasing's regal black bear.

Representing an actual black bear killed in Kapuskasing (one of the largest on record), this statue, known as Muskwa, was erected in 2000. Created by artist Normand Fortin with a metal frame and acrylic cement referred to as “winter stone,” this creature is built to weather some of the harshest conditions Northern Ontario can deliver. 

4. Chimo the Polar Bear

Cochrane, Ontario

a large statue of a white polar bear on an ice block, with its nose raised as thought sniffing the air. It stands next to a high-peaked brown wooden building.
Chimo greets visitors to Cochrane, with a special nod to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.

Cochrane is famous for its polar bears, including the world’s only wildlife centre dedicated exclusively to the creatures as well as the local Polar Bear Express, offering opportunities to see the bears in their natural habitat on the shores of Moosonee and Moose Factory. There’s even a summer festival called Bearfest. So it makes sense that it would also be home to an impressive bear statue. The original statue was unveiled in 1970 at the Highway 11 entrance to the city, where he stood fiercely for nearly 50 years. But as con

ditions took their toll on the creature (whose name means friendship in Inuktitut), this statue was replaced by a newer model in 2018. But the original was moved to the Polar Bear Habitat, where he is undergoing restoration. So now Cochrane can now claim not one but two Chimos. 

5. Moose and Wolves

Hearst, Ontario

a motorcycle parked on a sunny summer day next to metal lettering on a boulder that reads "Hearst". Behind it are large statues of wolves and moose in confrontation.
This dramatic face-off welcomes visitors to Hearst.

This roadside tableau is packed with drama: A massive moose, standing in front of its cow, crouches in a defensive position, his intimidating antlers at the ready. He’s staring down a pair of vicious-looking wolves—their teeth bared and looking for trouble. This statue, next to the tourist’s information center just off the Trans-Canada Highway in Hearst, Ontario, has captured a wildlife scene that seems to pit an unstoppable force against an immovable object. Who will emerge as the victor in this showdown? It’s left for visitors to Hearst to imagine.

6. Guy-Paul Treefall

Iroquois Falls, Ontario

A large, painted statue of a French-Canadian lumberjack sitting on a stump looking upward, his axe resting in one hand and the other pointing up to the sky. The statue is surrounded by green grass and trees.
 Iroquois Falls' own Guy-Paul Treefall.

Outside the Iroquois Falls tourist information office off Highway 11, sits a 20-foot-tall lumberjack, axe resting between his legs as he sits on the stump of a tree he’s presumably just felled. Known as the Canadian Paul Bunyon, Guy-Paul Treefall greets visitors with a finger pointed in the air (no, not that finger) and a smile on his face, as if he’s in the middle of an interesting anecdote. The statue, created by Denys Heppell from Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec, has definitely taken a battering from the elements since being installed in 2010. But rather than replace him, locals have worked to repair the statue (who, despite what one might assume, is not made of wood but fibreglass) with recent patches and upgrades. Guy-Paul should be relaxing and chatting on the roadside for many years to come.

7. Ms. Claybelt the Cow

New Liskeard, Ontario

A large statue of a black and white cow, standing in front of a green-roofed wooden building on a summer day.
Ms. Claybelt of New Liskeard, the 12-foot cow who took 865 man-hours to assemble.

This sizable fibreglass Holstein (measuring 12 feet high) sits outside the Little Claybelt Homesteaders Museum in Temiskaming Shores, a local heritage museum celebrating the area’s history—including the major role played by agriculture and livestock. Ms. Claybelt was created by Jerry Shepherdson of Mid-Canada Fibreglass (manufacturer of Scott Canoes) in the mid-1980s and has stood the test of time, still looking as healthy and hearty as ever. 

8. Manitou the Bison

Earlton, Ontario

a very large statue of a bison, standing on a raised mound of gravel. There is a motorbike with two people on it parked in front of the statue.
Earlton's Manitou, standing strong.

Canada’s largest bison sculpture sits just off Highway 11 in the town of Earlton (about 200km north of North Bay). The all-steel sculpture measures an impressive 27 feet long and weighs nine tons. Commissioned by local bison ranch Bison du Nord, the sculpture took more than a year to create and is a reminder of the creature’s important place in the local region.

9. The Flying Saucer

Moonbeam, Ontario

a large sculpture of a flying saucer with the word "Moonbeam" on the side, raised on stilts so that it appears to float above the trees. It stands next to an ornate red and green heritage building under a clear blue sky. two green plush aliens sitting on a shelf at the Moonbeam gift shop, each with large black eyes and embroidered smiles, wearing black T shirts that read "I love Mars" and "I love Earth".
Moonbeam's flying saucer adds to the town's fun lore. Take home a cute little Kilo of your own from the gift shop!

An appropriate symbol for a town called Moonbeam, this tourist attraction was also created by New Liskeard-based Mid-Canada Fibreglass (one of the largest canoe makers in Canada at the time), and installed following local reports throughout the 1960s and 1970s of local UFO sightings (supposedly along with accompanying crop circles according to Atlas Obscura). The town mascot? A tiny Martian named Kilo. Travellers to the Moonbeam Tourism Office just off Highway 11 are assured of a UFO sighting thanks to this attraction. Visitors can also browse all sorts of alien-themed merchandise at the Moonbeam gift shop.

10. The Rock Pine Fish

Marten River, Ontario

a large colour statue of a fish resting on a platform of grey rock, with a pine forest behind it.
This charismatic fish has been reeling people into The Rock Pine Motel and Restaurant.

Since the 1960s, The Rock Pine Motel and Restaurant has been offering comfort food and cozy accommodations (as well as camping and recreational activities) on the waterfront of Marten River, north of North Bay, off Highway 11. But what’s really helped make this spot a destination is its famous fish: the school-bus-sized giant fish out front makes it hard to resist stopping by.

11. McIntyre Gold Mine Headframe

Timmins, Ontario

a tall mining headframe on the horizon surrounded by green forest, soft blue sky with fluffy white clouds and a blue lake.
The McIntyre Gold Mine Headframe, part of Timmins' gold mining backstory.

Like the Big Nickel, this is a monument to local mining history. Specifically, the McIntyre mine in Timmins, where significant amounts of gold were extracted during what came to be known as the Porcupine Gold Rush. Though it’s long since been abandoned, the impressive headframe, completed in 1927, continues to stand tall as a reminder of this chapter of Timmins’ past. Visitors to Timmins can check out the Hollinger Open Pit Lookout for views of a working gold mine. 

About Alex Palmer

Alex Palmer is a New York Times bestselling author who writes about travel, culture, and history for outlets including Smithsonian, Slate, and National Geographic. Learn more at alexpalmerwrites.com

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