Colborne's Big Apple - popular bus stop off Highway 401 East
The only way that you will miss this stop is if you have your eyes closed. Situated in the middle of nowhere, just off Canada's major highway between Toronto and Montreal is Canada's biggest apple. Sitting in a farmer's field, just off Highway 401 is a monstrous 11.6 metre (38 foot) diameter, 42 ton fiberglass and foam apple. It's so big you can walk inside the metal skeleton,
take a set of stairs to an observation deck and have a view of the surrounding countryside and highway. If you squint, you can see Lake Ontario. There are displays that tell you just about everything you'd want to know about an apple.
It's the brainchild of George Boycott who immigrated to Canada from Australia in the 80's. He got the idea to build something big when he first saw a Big Pineapple structure in his hometown of Nambour, Australia. Since Canada had no pineapples but lots of apples (especially grown in this area), he decided in 1987 to build a Big Apple. The rest is history.
Canada's Big Apple is the drawing card for a thriving pie factory, a nicely renovated sit-in restaurant offering a wide choice of hot foods and sandwiches, souvenir shop and a small amusement park.
When I was there, Beth MacDonald, supervisor at the Big Apple Pie Factory told me, "On any given day our ovens can bake over 250 pies. That's 453 kilograms (1000 pounds) of apples baking at once. The great smells still drive me wild."
They bake more than just apple pies. Apple bread is one of their other specialties. I spotted Betty Taylor of Toronto enjoying a large slice of apple pie. She said, "I just can't seem to go by without stopping. I like it because the apples are crunchy and they taste like real apples, not the store bought ones." I agree. There is also a viewing area where you can see through a glass partition the pies being baked.
The restaurant, which sits 300 people, claims to be the biggest highway bus stop in the world with thousands of buses each year. When I stopped, on my way to Kingston, it was packed with customers from Germany and Japan who arrived on separate buses. They seemed to all go away with one or two fresh-from-the-ovens, warm pies in hand. Pies are not cheap. You can expect to spend about $12.00 for a nine inch diameter pie.
On the way out, I stopped at the gift shop that's crammed full of apple related items such as Apple t-shirts spouting, "You're the Apple of My Eye," apple key chains, books on apples, and of course fresh apples.
They haven't forgotten the children. There's a small playground outside where the young ones can take a free train ride or feed animals in a small zoo. There are Llamas, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats and donkeys. We bigger guys can relax with a free game of table-tennis, shuffleboard, bocce ball or even a round of mini-golf.
The Big Apple is open daily 8 am until 7 pm., about 250 kilometres from Niagara.
Apples like a temperate climate and well drained soul. They are harvested between September and November depending on their size and variety. Here are some of the ingredients that make a medium size apple so good for you: 3g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 1.5g of fibre, 12g of pectin, 87 calories of food energy, 85% water, 10.5mg of calcium, .45mg of iron, and 12mg of potassium. That's quite a mouthful!
More of the World's Largest
Mushroom: Vilna, Alberta, Canada, Carrot: Ohakune, New Zealand, Spinach Can: Alma, Arkansas, Artichoke: Castroville, California, Cherry Pie: Traverse City, Michigan, Peach: Gaffney, South Carolina, Egg: Winlock, Washington.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.