Lacombe Alberta Canada is home to my favourite "World's largest roadside attraction"! An amazing fishing lure measuring in at an impressive 40.5 feet! This Alberta roadside attraction has beat out the previous World Record holders in Texas by an astonishing 24 feet. I'm an avid fishergirl so this has been on my radar for a while now! I'm also a sucker for any oversized roadside attractions, so it's only natural that I would find my way here eventually.
I brought my family up to Red Deer Alberta from Calgary for a weekend of adventures checking out Christmas Markets, looking for Santa and his reindeer, we even found the Grinch and Max on our travels! Our main reason for heading up to this area of the province for 4 days was The All Canadian Pageant my 2 daughters were in, but once all the pageant stuff was done we jumped into the Jeep and headed north from Red Deer to Lacombe Alberta with our sites set on my favourite world's largest roadside attraction yet!
We set out at about 11 am after checking out of the Baymont Hotel in Red Deer, grabbed our coffees and snacks, and made the easy straightforward 30 minute drive north on Highway 2A to Lacombe Alberta. Which is a decent size prairie town with plenty to offer visitors and travellers alike, and of course home to the Worlds Largest Fishing Lure! As we turned onto Wolf Creek Drive approaching Len Thompson Drive I spotted part of this ginormous fishing lure and my smile grew so big it almost hurt my face. "Do you see it!?" I excitedly shouted as my family laughed at my childish excitement. As we pulled up to the World's Largest Fishing Lure, we parked in the conveniently located parking lot just steps away from the Lure. Wow.....this Len Thompson lure is huge!!! I was aw struck by its sheer size and the beauty of the craftsmanship. I know my tackle box is teeming with Canadian made Len Thompson lures and has been since I was a small child fishing with my dad. So to be standing under this giant replica had me feeling like a kid again all wide-eyed and curious how they did this and why.
The World's Largest Fishing Lure was a project made possible by a few local groups coming together to make the impossible happen. Many thanks go out to the Lacombe Fish and Game Association, Echo Community Grant Fund, and of course local fabricators Comet Welding! Imagine the first time someone said "Let's build the world's largest fishing lure" how many obstacles they would overcome to pull this off. With Lacombe being home to the Len Thompson factory for over 60 years, it was only fitting that this to be the location for such a task. It was amazingly completed the same year The Len Thompson company celebrated its 90 year anniversary in 2019. It took 9 months and 6 prototypes to complete this amazing project - an impressive 5 of Diamonds fishing lure over 40 feet long, totaling over 3500lbs in weight and is designed to be 100 times larger than a #2 Len Thompson lure. This lure took over 25 gallons of paint to complete!
Perfectly located at the Len Thompson pond, not only do you get to marvel at this beast of a lure, but you can spend the day fishing the pond for rare, highly sought after, stocked Tiger Trout for catch and release only. Moreover, you'll find yourself enjoying the scenery and maybe having a picnic at one of the many picnic tables scattered around the pond, including a lovely covered picnic area for those days we need some shelter. Furthermore, you'll find many docks around for fishing opportunities in this naturally well-fed stocked retention pond. Unfortunately, the pond is closed in the winter so be sure to check the local fishing regulations if you're planning to fish. Alternatively, you can head up the street 1 minute to the Len Thompson Factory and Retail Shop that also has the feel of a small Len Thompson museum of his history.
Maybe it's just me and my love for all things Canadian fishing related, but I was very impressed and excited to learn the history of my favourite fishing lures and see the progression of time displayed in the cases and all over the walls. You'll find original die sets, older discontinued lure models, colours and patterns you cannot find or buy anymore, prototype lures, paint wheels, current popular models and even photos and history about Len Thompson himself. His original desk is right in the showroom for all to see, and what a neat desk it is! I won't say anything more about the desk, you can go see for yourself why I think it's so cool and maybe you'll think it's just as interesting as I do...they just don't make them like that anymore. The staff here are amazing and if you ask nicely or show some interest they will play a short video for you about the history of this 4th generation family-owned Canadian Business. It's worth the few minutes to watch this cool informative video.
The retail store gives you a peek into the back inner workings of the Len Thompson Factory while giving you the ability to shop their retail selection of lures. I work at Cabela's in the fishing department, which carries one of the best selections of Len Thompson lures on the market. Not to mention I even found a handful of must-have lures to add to my collection that I had never seen before. For the better part of the last decade, I've been collecting custom Len Thompson spoons. Be it a new business opening, a trade show, rare holiday lures, or the unique custom personalized ones, I'm looking for them. Thompson-Pallister Bait Company can custom make any design you want, and after speaking with the staff I learned that it is very affordable to order your own custom lures, with a minimum order of 12. If I ever get married I know what my wedding favour gifts would be!
How spectacular is it to hear of such a successful small town Canadian business doing so well and going strong over 90 years later. Len was a First World War soldier and farmer who made his 1st spoon in 1929 in Abernthy Saskatchewan. Being an avid fisherman himself, he knew he could make a better spoon than any on the market. To perfect the important slow wobbling action needed, he travelled around with a file and ball peen hammer in his tackle box. Talk about determination! Len Thompson Bullet and Bait was just his part-time gig until 1945 when he decided to make it his full career path. He travelled to Toronto to lock in the high quality suppliers he needed to grow the business to what it is today. He managed to turn his part-time position into a full factory and even hired a professional tool and die maker in the village of Abernethy, Saskatchewan.
After nearly a decade of successful sales, the Thompson and Pallister families formed Thompson-Pallister Bait Co. and decided in 1958 to relocate to their current area of Lacombe Alberta. Len continued to experiment and help build sales while his son-in-law Cecil Pallister oversaw the manufacturing process. Len, unfortunately, passed away in 1979 but that didn't stop the family business. As of 2019 around 55 million Len Thompson lures have been made in Canada! Sales are approximately 500000 lures a year and that is a sure sign Len made his dreams come true and his lures continue to be a staple in tackle boxes for probably every Canadian angler as well as many around the world!
With a manufacturing plant of around 14000 sq ft located in Lacombe Alberta, I hope we continue to see Len Thompson lures being produced in Canada for many more years to come. I personally think it's absolutely fantastic that almost 100 years later this company is still family owned and operated. Together with other local businesses, these companies look after their community with many different fundraisers and campaigns. For this reason, if you're ever in the Lacombe Alberta area, I highly recommend making a stop at my Favourite World's Largest Roadside Attraction - a 40 foot 5 of Diamonds lure towering over you, as well as an informative stop at the factory. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
A lure bigger than Texas's - that's Canadian, eh?! wink) Even though I'm not an angler, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post!