The displays didn’t mind Ken Schultz was nearly three decades late opening his dream. They weren’t going anywhere.
A master taxidermist, the 63-year-old Vernon born-and-raised Schultz opened the Canadian Wildlife Museum on his Pleasant Valley Road property at the north end of the roadway near Swan Lake in June. The museum is housed on two floors with about 4,000 square feet of wildlife displays.
“I bought another taxidermist’s business in 1986, he was a good friend of mine, retired and he had a vision for building a wildlife museum. But he got sick and aborted that mission,” said Schultz in one of his two workshops on the property. “So, in 1993, I followed his dream and decided to make it my own. I had hoped to complete it by the year 2000 but I missed it by 20 years.”
A self-taught taxidermist – there are no schools for such a profession – Schultz began stuffing animals in 1971. He got started mostly through his interest in wildlife and especially birds. He had a passion for bird watching and wanted to get into the taxidermy industry right away.
“I love doing creative and artistic things where I can use my talents,” he said. “I had fun for 15 years, then started to do it professionally.”
The construction worker-turned-taxidermist sometimes took as long as six months of full-time labour to create and complete the wildlife scenes found in the museum. Most of the larger mammal scenes took a month or two of labour to complete.
You’ll see his excellence in the work. There are more than 350 mounted specimens, including more than 120 birds of prey, and more than 115 different species of Canadian wildlife. There is also a large butterfly and moth collection.
And Schultz’s talent isn’t limited to the artwork. He also created the natural, detailed bases the scenes are situated on.
“The setting is a rustic cedar wood atmosphere with natural bird and nature environmental background sounds,” said Schultz.
“The Canadian Wildlife Museum offers an outstanding arrangement of wildlife displays, most of which the average person would never see in the wild,” said Schultz, adding reaction from the public has been “awesome.”
The museum also houses a gift shop stocked with unique wildlife and nature-related novelties, souvenirs, jewelry and gifts.
The Canadian Wildlife Museum and Gift Shop is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.