Muskie’s sculpture gets a makeover
KENORA, Ont. “It’s probably the largest specimen that many anglers have laid eyes on without dropping a line in an ocean. Today, the Kenora Muskie Husky sculpture, which has drawn tourists to the fishing haven for more than 50 years, gets a makeover.
The province announced nearly $500,000 on Friday for various infrastructure upgrades to the city’s McLeod Park, some of which will be used to repair Husky and give it a much-needed paint job.
“The revitalization of Husky the Muskie will ensure that a nationally recognized sculpture continues to be an iconic attraction for local residents and seasonal visitors,” Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard said in a news release.
Of the total amount, $135,000 is intended to spruce up the Husky sculpture, which hasn’t had a facelift since 1995.
The impressive 12-meter-tall structure was originally erected to mark Canada’s centennial in 1967. The body is slightly twisted, as if it had just jumped out of a lake.
In real life, muskellunges are sought-after trophy fish that can grow up to four feet long and weigh nearly 40 pounds.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford noted that since the centennial, Kenora has evolved from a primarily industrial community to a tourism mecca, particularly in the summer when the city’s population increases well beyond the census figure of 15,000.
The town “has come a long way since its beginnings in the pulp and paper mill,” Rickford said in the press release.
Sculptures and statues like Husky, Wawa’s Canada Goose, and White River’s Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit aren’t just fun and playful; they are also good for local business.
“Roadside statues have often popped up in quirky ways, especially in smaller towns,” said Thunder Bay tourism manager Paul Pepe.
Tourists “stop, take a picture and have a bite to eat or shop nearby. With social media, people post and hashtag the roadside attraction and this generates more awareness for the city.
Some attractions are just for fun while others have a darker tone.
The Terry Fox Monument in Thunder Bay is much admired. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Highway 11/17 structure overlooking Lake Superior drew 70,000 people a year during regular hours alone.
“Last year we installed 24-hour restrooms on the monument grounds to accommodate after-hours traffic,” Pepe said.
Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal