Larger Than Life

8 July 2009

Larger Than Life: Saskatchewan’s BIG Roadside Monuments

by Robin and Arlene Karpan
Published by Parkland Publishing
Review by Marie Powell Mendenhall
$18.95 ISBN: 0-9683579-9-7

From the world’s largest still in Vonda, to four-by-eight-foot hockey cards in Kelvington, there couldn’t be a stone – er, monument – left uncovered by Saskatoon writer-photographers Robin and Arlene Karpan.

More than 70 communities find their way into the 176 pages of Larger Than Life, their guide to Saskatchewan’s roadside attractions. Each is captured in black-and-white photos, with a 14-page section of colour photographs in the centre to show the decorative nature of these provincial icons.

“Some are serious art, many tell a story, and some are just plain fun or a tongue-in-cheek look at some aspect of life in Saskatchewan,” write the authors in their introduction.

The roadsides sport their share of human figures. For example, two 11.5-foot tall figures carry a 30-foot canoe through downtown La Ronge in “Portage,” a monument the Karpans say “symbolizes the north.” Mounted police in towns like Redvers and North Battleford vie with countless other figures such as Goodsoil Gus, the Willow Bunch Giant, Potash Pete in Esterhazy, Lignite Louie in Estevan, Santa Claus in Watson, and many others.

Wildlife ranges from gophers to moose, with a few uncommon ones like the woolly mammoth in Kyle and the plesiosaur in Ponteix. Wheat sheaves, prairie lilies, birds, and other creatures abound. There are also monuments the Karpans call “one-of-a-kind oddities,” like the bunnock in Macklin and the lighthouse in Cochin.

According to the Karpans “These roadside giants enhance our journeys, adding color or beauty to the landscape, telling a story, or giving us a smile or a few chuckles along the way.”


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