Through a passion spanning more than 60 years, Lorne McArthur has a vast collection of mounted animals and is willing to show them off to anyone who wants to take a look.
McArthur and his wife have lived just south of Red Deer for about 43 years and in that time have amassed a collection of taxidermied animals including fish, birds, mammals and reptiles. Because they do school, scouts or girl guides or any other group tours they have a museum licence. This means they can keep certain animals, such as songbirds, a taxidermy licence wouldn’t let them keep.
They welcome all sorts of people in and show their vast collection of carefully preserved and mounted animals. Ranging from moose to deer to elk to eagles to owls to wolves to foxes and more.
McArthur has had his taxidermy licence since he was 12, now 63 years later he still finds solace in the practice. He started doing it by helping his grandfather and has done it ever since.
“I enjoy doing it, you have to,” said McArthur. “I have an appreciation for wildlife and the preservation of wildlife, whether it is alive or it has, unfortunately passed away, it is preserving what nature has brought us.”
Though many stuffed and mounted animals grace his home, he takes time to feed and care for living animals as well.
He noted that this winter has been particularly tough for most animals, save coyotes. The snow and cold has left deer and birds finding it tough to get food.
McArthur shows groups that come through the protected animals and the rare ones he has or those that aren’t common to the area. Included in that group are different varieties of hawks and owls, loons or pacific eiders.
The fall is traditionally the busy season because of hunting season, but because of deep freezers the season extends with people bringing in animals that have been frozen into the winter months. By March he has just about finished up his heads for the year, with a wolf he is working on nearing completion.
Walking through his house he talks fondly of his animals, a muntjac, a variety of deer that has hooked fangs in its mouth, or a bald-headed eagle that McArthur got due to the Exxon Valdez oil tanker wreck near Alaska.
“This was a bird that was killed in the oil spill,” said McArthur.
“He was fishing, there were dead fish on the top and he grabbed them and they were covered in oil and the next thing you know he dies.
His white feathers still have a yellow tinge to them from the oil spill.