This is no bull.
Chesley’s Big Bruce has outperformed a mammoth cheese, enormous golf bag, giant thimble and even Sudbury’s famous big nickel to be crowned the winner of TVO’s Great Ontario Roadside Attraction Showdown.
“We’re pretty happy here in Arran-Elderslie,” Mayor Steve Hammell said Friday.
“We became aware of it early in the competition that he was one of 16 and as the competition went on, he kept winning and getting more support and the community kept rallying around him. We were pleasantly surprised about the win and we’re glad he got the recognition he deserves.”
TVO.org began highlighting Ontario’s roadside attractions in early July.
The initial field of 16 competitors for the showdown included some well-known landmarks, like Wawa’s big goose, Niagara’s Floral Clock, Colborne’s Big Apple and Campbellford’s Giant Toonie.
In Round 1, Big Bruce foiled Perth’s Mammoth Cheese and Amaranth’s giant golf bag to advance to Round 2 with the Beardmore Snowman. Big Bruce ended up crushing the snowman, before bringing down the Wawa Goose in Round 3.
The brown-and-white Hereford netted his final victory against Kenora’s Husky the Muskie to be named Ontario’s greatest roadside attraction.
Big Bruce has been standing proud next to Bruce County Road 10 in Chesley, part of Arran-Elderslie, for decades.
He was put on permanent display in 1980 outside of what was then the Township of Elderslie municipal office. A new Arran-Elderslie municipal office was later built next door.
The late Harvey Davis, the father of current Arran-Elderslie Deputy-mayor Mark Davis, discovered the 15-foot-tall fibreglass bull while in the United States, likely Wisconsin, in the early to mid-1970s.
Harvey Davis was a local beef farmer and Elderslie Township reeve who wanted to bring the bull home and tour it around to promote the upcoming 1976 International Plowing Match, which took place near Walkerton.
Mark Davis said his father tried to convince the Bruce County Cattlemen’s Association to cover the roughly $3,000 cost to buy the bull, but they weren’t eager at first. So he said he would buy it himself.
The association ended up deciding to foot the bill.
Harvey Davis towed Big Bruce on a golden trailer to fairs, parades and other events to promote the plowing match, Bruce County and the beef industry.
He died in 1980 of malignant melanoma. The cattleman’s association decided to display Big Bruce permanently outside of the township office as a tribute to Harvey Davis, Bruce County’s 100th warden.
Mark Davis said he’s thrilled Big Bruce has been recognized as the province’s best roadside attraction.
“Our family is very, very pleased. It’s so good for the area, for the community and the region,” he said.
“He took on some heavyweights. To be honest, when this all started, I thought, this looks pretty tough. But he kept prevailing. I have to give him credit.”
Hammell said Big Bruce is a memorable marker for the community and popular landmark for children and families.
“He’s a true symbol of our community and the hard-working agricultural members of our community,” the mayor said.