There's the Giant Artichoke in Castroville, Calif., and the Giant Tire in Allen Park, Mich. Now a new roadside attraction in British Columbia has made it into the big time too: a giant canoe paddle.
The Guinness World Records last month dubbed this Canadian attraction the Largest Hand Paddle/Oar on the planet. The wooden oar in a riverside setting at the foot of the Canadian Rockies measures 60 feet long and 9 feet high, and weighs about 5,300 pounds, according to the World's Largest Paddle website.
It is scaled up to 13 times the size of a regular oar. The paddle was dreamed up by Mark Teasdale, owner of a kayak-canoe rental and guide company called Columbia Wetlands Adventures in the town of Parsons in the Columbia River Valley.
He enlisted log home builder Dave Stonehouse to craft it from a single Western red cedar log. "We were brainstorming on ideas for signage [for the business] and that was kind of how it took root," Teasdale says. "He said he could build a big log paddle, and that was an aha moment for me."
Teasdale did some research on what it would take to snag a world record. Turns out there wasn't much competition. The paddle went up on his property in November, and he completed the landscaping this spring.
Since then, visitors have come to see it and snap photos. "We built it so people could climb all over it," he says.
In some ways, this isn't just about the paddle. Teasdale wants folks to visit and explore the Columbia River and its wetlands, which provides home to hundreds of wildlife species. It's within a day trip of Banff, Lake Louise and other national parks in the area.