Arts·Big Things

How a giant perogy saved this small town

Big Things Small Towns goes to Glendon, Alberta to learn about the giant perogy that kept the town on the map.

Big Things Small Towns goes to Glendon, Alberta to learn about the giant perogy that kept the town on the map

If there's one thing Albertans do even better than huge trucks and grain elevators, it's making massive monuments for little places. Follow Tamarra Canu on her summer Albertan road trip as she travels her province to find out what these big things meant to the small towns that call them home.

For centuries, humans have obsessed over massive objects and the legacy they leave behind: The Great Wall of China, The Great Pyramids of Giza, The Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum — but not to be forgotten: The Glendon Perogy. 

In this episode of Big Things Small Towns, Tamarra Canu visits Glendon, Alberta and hears all about the huge perogy that kept the town alive. 4:22

It's one of Alberta's strangest objects, made with love by citizens committed to their town's existence and serious dedication from their former mayor of nearly 40 years. "What was happening to our town is it was dying, so we had to come up with something out of the ordinary to have people come in," says former mayor Johnnie Doonanco, who even submitted the Glendon Perogy to be on the back of the toonie when the $2 bill was eliminated.

It may seem like a joke, but this perogy is the reason Glendon is alive today. For Big Things Small Towns host Tamarra Canu, it only seemed right to also learn how to make the doughy dumpling that saved the town.

Watch the episode above and take a bite out of the unique culture in Glendon, Alberta.

Built: 1991
Height: 8.2m
Weight: 2,721kg
Material: Fibreglass and metal frame
Fact: the fork was added to make it recognizable
*Tastes better than it looks

About Big Things Small Towns

At one time, the largest things spreading across the Canadian prairies were grain elevators and Ukrainian church domes, but in the 1990s, citizens of small towns began building their own roadside giants. Some relevant to the times, some questionably random and some still popping up today.

On Big Things Small Towns we visit six of Alberta's most legendary locations:

  • Drumheller! The "World's Largest Dinosaur" takes you back to prehistoric times. Plus, you can see how it and many other dinos are made.
  • Falher! You'll celebrate the "World's Largest Bee" in more ways than one (including witnessing Tamarra facing one of her biggest fears by participating in their annual bee beard spectacle).
  • Vegreville! You'll find out why the "World's Largest Pysanka" (or painted egg) is truly unique from creation to design.
  • Glendon! Tamarra's headed to take a bite out of its world-famous perogy and discover how the monument may have saved the town itself.
  • Donalda! The "World's Largest Oil Lamp" has been lighting the way for tourists to discover the beauty within the walls of the town.
  • Medicine Hat! This town celebrates Indigenous art and identity with the spectacular Saamis Teepee that celebrates culture, history and the legacy of the Calgary Olympics.

You get to see these objects and the diverse Alberta landscape through the lens of spectacular drone visuals while you learn about Alberta's rich history and, more importantly, start planning your own road trip. Check back for more Big Things Small Towns over the next few weeks.

Special thanks to The Kubasonics for their song Giants of the Prairies. Graphics and poster designed by Chris Brodt.

About the Author

Tamarra Canu is a freelance filmmaker, recently a grant recipient to produce her film The Act of Being Normal. She was Additional Camera and Production Assistant for Vital Bonds on CBC's The Nature of Things and Production Coordinator for CBC's Equus- Story of the Horse. She began her career at CBC News Edmonton as Associate Producer and is proud to be able to keep telling stories for the CBC.

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