One of Manitoba’s well-known roadside attractions is about to get much better known across Canada. Gladstone’s smiling “Happy Rock,” situated on the edge of town beside the Yellowhead Highway (No. 16), has been selected to be featured in a stamp series put out by Canada Post this summer.
Four roadside statues were selected but Happy Rock is the only one chosen from Manitoba. The others being used are the Coffee Pot and Cup in Davidson, Saskatchewan (south of Saskatoon); the Puffin from Longue-Pointe-De-Mingan, Quebec (along the north shore of the St. Lawrence); and the Wawa Goose from Wawa, Ontario (near the eastern end of Lake Superior). The offi-cial launch for the Happy Rock stamp is scheduled for July 5.
The Gladstone Happy Rock was constructed in 1993, officially opening as a tourist information centre on July 1 of that year, but the Happy Rock concept as a tourist attraction had actually developed at least 20 years earlier. (glad stone = happy rock; get it?) In a logo contest in 1984 to choose a Happy Rock mascot, a design by Jerry Wickstead, then a pupil at the local collegiate, was selected as the winner, but planning and fundraising took nearly 10 years. Now, 17 years after its construction, the statue is to be recognized Canadawide.
Built of fibreglass, the Happy Rock weighs about 1,360 kg (3,000 pounds). Including the pedestal, it is 11 metres high (36 feet), and has become a stopping point for travellers. With his smiling face and top hat, one arm waving and the other holding a serving towel, it makes a great keepsake photo. Having one’s picture taken under the Happy Rock is said to bring good luck while you are travelling along the Yellowhead Highway! It’s also a good spot for a picnic or merely a place to stretch your legs or get visitor information.
In preparation for the celebration, the statue is being refurbished, with a group of volunteers hard at work to improve the grounds and building, give the happy fellow a new coat of paint and plant flowers around it. This year the flowers will be in the colours of Canada Post: red, white and blue. The town of Gladstone has given a $2,000 grant to help with the refurbishing, with local businesses also contributing to the fundraising. The unveiling ceremony for the Happy Rock stamp is to be on July 5 at 1 p. m. with officials from Canada Post scheduled to attend, as well as entertainers.
I look forward to seeing and using the smiling face of the Happy Rock stamp on my letters. It’s nice to see one of our roadside giants officially recognized.
– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba