Day 8: Saturday, September 21

A Day Of Gophers & Stuffed Wildlife

Nice sunny day today. We were up at about 8:00AM because it was time for a very unusual day trip – it’s all about gophers and stuffed animals today (stay with me… I’ll work through this for you).

We (Karen, Gerald, Norma, Vince, me) left Red Deer at about 10:00 for an all-day trip in the mighty Santa Fe. We first went to Innisfail so that Norma could drop some stuff at the Sally Ann, then went out to what used to be the Job family farm to see what it looked like under the new owners.

From the farm we went across country to the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum. What exactly is the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum you may ask? A little backstory and explanation:

Torrington is an agricultural hamlet in central Alberta with a population of 170 people. In prior years the hamlet had been steadily shrinking and the place was basically on its way out. Several years ago the locals came up with a great idea to boost the hamlet’s economy and put the place back on it’s feet – why not utilize the humble gopher (which are in abundance in the area and a huge pest for the prairie farmer) to portray the past heritage of Torrington. Putting the idea into action, the Gopher Hole Museum was born. The Museum consists of stuffed (taxidermied) gophers who have been lovingly dressed and placed in scenes (called dioramas) with speech bubbles. I know all of this sounds weird so here’s the visuals to accompany my description (click on the first image to cycle through the dioramas in a larger view):

The Gopher Hole Museum has become wildly popular worldwide. Thousands of people come to this little hamlet from all over the world to see the stuffed gophers in their dioramas. When a visitor comes to the Museum they are asked to put a pin on the Museum’s map to indicate where they hale from. Here is the visitor map:

Worldwide visitors to the Gopher Hole Museum
Inside the Gopher Hole Museum

Additionally, the village has a larger than life gopher mascot (Clem T. GoFur), and the locals have painted all the fire hydrants to resemble gophers, which look like this:

All of this is more than enough to make the PETA people throw a fit, which they have… many times.

OK…. enough about gophers already…. Let’s move on.

From Torrington we went to the town of Olds (population about 9,000) for lunch. After some deliberation we ended up at Smittys – not bad. We then continued on to the town of Sundre where we took in the World of Wildlife Exhibit (amazing stuffed wildlife!):

On our way out we passed through the Sundre & District Museum and the Pioneer Village:

It was well after 5:00PM when we left Sundre. We headed back to Red Deer via some quiet back highways. Back at their place, Karen had prepared an incredible meal and Gerald was busy grilling steaks on the BBQ (ah yes, that wonderful Alberta beef). Absolutely delicious (of course!).

Off to bed at about 10:00 as we need to get a somewhat early start tomorrow for our trip to Banff and the mountains!

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