If you’ve ever wanted a taxidermied mountain goat, a lynx rug or a set of unidentified horns, you’re in luck; a museum in B.C.’s Interior has put its entire collection, including hundreds of preserved animals, up for auction online.
Oscar’s Wildlife Museum in McBride has been a tourist attraction in the community since 1965 when it was opened by the museum’s namesake, Oscar Lamming. It was purchased by Maurice Bonneville, who ran the museum for tourists and locals for 10 years. After that, he opened it up for locals and their guests upon request.
“Dad loved it,” Bonneville’s daughter Lori Bonneville-Kimpton said. “It was kind of his baby.”
When her father moved from McBride to Victoria for medical care three years ago, the new property owners said they could keep the contents of the museum, which is on their property, in the building for a couple of months. Three years later, the owners have asked for use of the building.
Though her father never wanted the collection to be sold off, Bonneville-Kimpton said the collection is too large for her and her two sisters, none of whom live in McBride anymore, to hold on to and try to maintain.
After trying to figure out how to distribute the items, and ideally keep some in the community, they decided an auction would be the best course of action.
“It breaks our heart that the collection is going to leave McBride but we don’t know what to do with it. It’s huge. I mean it’s overwhelmingly huge.”
Some items will be donated to the Valley Museum and Archive in McBride, but because it has limited space, most of the collection has gone up for auction online.
The contents range from taxidermy mounts and rugs to antlers and other antiques and collectibles from the McBride area; trophies, radios, clocks and a phonograph. There’s even an old punch-time clock from CN Rail. Much of the taxidermy was done by the original owner, who also trapped the animals, according to Bonneville-Kimpton.
Bidding closes May 13.
The auction was an ideal way to sell off the items because this way, Bonneville-Kimpton said, members of the community can purchase a piece of local history.
“We know that a lot of people in McBride are disappointed,” she said. “But we’re hoping that people will purchase things that are dear to them.”
Bonneville-Kimpton said there has been some backlash from the community; people have contacted her to ask why she and her family are selling off the collection, and called the situation a disgrace.
“Our hands are tied,” Bonneville-Kimpton said. “We don’t have a choice. This has been a really hard thing for our family.”