*A video of The Happy Rock of Gladstone by Victor Davies...
Most tourists and visitors who have driven along the Yellowhead
Route can recall a landmark that is situated in the community of
Gladstone, Manitoba – The Happy Rock.
The concept of the Happy Rock goes back to the late 1970s when the
provincial government held brainstorming sessions with community
representatives to develop and implement strategies for increasing
tourism traffic and inevitably tourism dollars in their respective rural
Gladstone has always been referred to as "Happy Rock” and the
consensus felt that a method to attract tourism to the town was to
position Gladstone as Happy Rock.
In 1984, the local Chamber of Commerce decided that they needed a
mascot to represent the name Happy Rock so a logo contest was held.
Jerry Wickstead, a student from William Morton Collegiate in Gladstone,
submitted the winning entry.
The Chamber of Commerce registered Happy Rock as a trademark and in
1988, a resolution was passed by the Chamber to pursue the construction
of a Happy Rock statue/visitor information centre. Many communities in
the province had an identifiable feature and Gladstone needed to be
included. A committee of Chamber representatives (Tom Scott, Lyle Cox,
and Gary Cibula) was formed to source out manufacturers, prepare
operating budgets, and propose various methods of fundraising for the
Fundraising for the project began in 1991 and lasted until 1993. A
Community Places Grant provided funding for up to 25% of the total
project cost, the rest was covered by fundraising and a no interest
repayable loan from local businessman, Jay Boschman.
Geremia Blackie Cibinel architects from Winnipeg prepared the blue
prints for the Happy Rock from specifications produced by the organizing
committee. The F.A.S.T. Corporation out of Sparta, Wisconsin was
selected to manufacture the Happy Rock at a cost of $33,800 US.
The design dimensions of the Happy Rock were 25’ High (the rock
itself would be 15’ and the base would be 10’) and the base itself would
be 17 ½’ wide. The base of the Happy Rock would house a visitor’s
information centre as well as public washroom facilities. The proposed
fibre glass constructed "Rock” would weigh around 700 kilograms. The
committee flew down to Wisconsin to inspect and monitor the progress of
construction and witnessed the Happy Rock being constructed in 4 phases –
hat, body, arms and base.
Besides the actual construction of the Rock, site preparation had
to be completed. The architectural firm provided blue prints on the
development of the site itself. Joe and Aida Figueiredo and Duncan and
Marg Broadfoot donated land, and easements were provided for the site.
Local contractors were hired or offered in kind services to develop the
site – landscaping, electrical, and waste management.
The final cost of the project was just under $92,000.
Happy Rock was officially opened as a tourist information center on July
1st 1993 culminating a process that had begun many years prior. The
result was a mascot that conjures up an image of a Happy Rock and one
that has become a recognizable landmark for thousands of travelers along
the Yellowhead Highway.
Today, although the tourist booth has closed, the Happy Rock still
serves as a symbol for Gladstone. Various Chamber of Commerce
promotional material bears the Happy Rock insignia– advertising and
tourist collectibles. These collectibles are available at both the
Gladstone Pharmacy and Clarke's of Gladstone gift shop. Happy Rock was
also featured in the Canada Post Roadside Attraction stamp series,
launched July 5, 2010.