May 1947

Lund’s Wildlife ex­hibit opens on River Street

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - NEWS - Joan Champ Thanks to the Bill Smi­ley Ar­chives for its as­sis­tance in the prepa­ra­tion of this col­umn. Con­tact: joan­champ@shaw.ca

Some­times I miss see­ing the long white build­ing stretched out along the river­bank on River Street – the words “LUND WILD LIFE EX­HIBIT” painted on the side fac­ing the river. Not be­cause it was at­trac­tive, be­cause it wasn’t, but be­cause it was such an iconic fixture in Prince Al­bert. It was there for 50 years.

I only went in­side once, with my sis­ter. It was filled with mounted an­i­mal spec­i­mens, most of them na­tive to Saskatchewan. Ev­ery­thing from a moose, to a bi­son, to bears, to all kinds of deer, to a shrew. For some rea­son, that tiny shew im­pressed my sis­ter and me the most. All the stuffed crea­tures were placed in dio­ra­mas, sur­rounded by trees and ferns and moss to give them a “nat­u­ral” set­ting.

Lund’s Wildlife Ex­hibit was a pri­vate mu­seum as­sem­bled by taxi­der­mist and col­lec­tor Frank F. Lund. Born in Sackville, Nova Sco­tia, Lund came to Prince Al­bert in 1910. Over the years, he prac­ticed taxi­dermy at 839 4th Street East, trap­ping and hunt­ing to build his col­lec­tion. “For the buf­falo,” his daugh­ter-in-law later re­counted, “he went to Wain­wright, Al­berta, to se­lect the nicest one, and it took him five days to choose it.” Lund said his goal with taxi­dermy was not to make money; rather, he wanted to pro­mote Canada’s pride in its wildlife.

In the 1920s and ‘30s, mounted an­i­mal dis­plays were all the rage. Lund showed his mas­sive ex­hibits at fairs in Prince Al­bert, Saska­toon and Regina, and for sevral years at the Cal­gary Stam­pede. He turned down of­fers to sell his ex­hibits to sev­eral Amer­i­can at­trac­tions. He wanted to keep them for Cana­di­ans.

From 1936 to 1938, Lund’s wildlife ex­hibit was on dis­play at Waske­siu un­der the aus­pices of the na­tional park. Then, in April of 1938, the park an­nounced that it no longer wanted Lund’s ex­hibit at Waske­siu. Lund’s ex­hibit was given one fi­nal run in the na­tional park.

On June 30, 1938, the Prince Al­bert Daily Her­ald de­scribed Lund’s show, “A Hunter’s Par­adise,” seen by hun­dreds of Waske­siu vis­i­tors that sum­mer. “The strik­ing re­sults of the at­tack of a tim­ber wolf on its ham­strung prey is vis­i­bly por­trayed in one set-up. A black tim­ber wolf, as it stands and calls to the pack, is an­other ad­di­tion,” the pa­per stated. “One cu­rios­ity that catches any ob­server’s eye is the white red squir­rel. Mr. Lund is proud to own the al­bino red squir­rel, for it is the first one he as ever seen or heard of.”

Evicted from the na­tional park, Lund’s ex­hibit was put into stor­age in Prince Al­bert for sev­eral years. Un­for­tu­nately, Frank Lund passed away in 1941 be­fore a per­ma­nent home was found for his life’s work.

In 1947, Franks’ son Gor­don ar­ranged with the Gov­ern­ment of Saskatchewan and the City of Prince Al­bert to house Lund’s Wildlife Ex­hibit in a World War II build­ing that the City moved across the river from the air­port. The 24-foot by 240-foot struc­ture was placed in the park on the north side of River Street, west of the present-day mu­seum.

Hon. J. H. Sturdy, Min­is­ter of Re­con­struc­tion and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, ac­knowl­edg­ing com­plaints that the WWII air­port build­ing would be an eye­sore on the river­bank, said that he in­tended to en­sure that it would not be “un­sightly.” The build­ing was re­painted white and green, and an at­trac­tive en­trance was built. The City was to main­tain the pro­fes­sion­ally land­scaped grounds, sup­ply light and wa­ter to the build­ing, and not to col­lect taxes on it. Lund’s Wildlife Ex­hibit opened in May 1947, charg­ing 25 cents ad­mis­sion for adults and 10 cents for chil­dren, with no charge for school tours.

Af­ter Gor­don Lund passed away in 1966, his widow, Mary, their chil­dren Marny and Frank, and Gor­don’s sib­lings, Norman and Ada, worked to­gether to keep Lund’s Wildlife Ex­hibit in op­er­a­tion. It re­mained a unique pres­ence on Prince Al­bert’s river­bank from 1947 un­til 1996, when, af­ter 49 years, it had to close. The old WWII build­ing had de­te­ri­o­rated to the point that it could no longer pro­tect the furry ex­hibits. The roof leaked and the floors were rot­ting. In ad­di­tion, the Lund fam­ily ad­mit­ted that the num­ber of vis­i­tors had de­clined steadily over the past few years. Mounted an­i­mal dis­plays had fallen out of favour.

In 1996, the River Street build­ing was de­mol­ished and Mary Lund moved the wildlife ex­hibits to Sea­world Mall in Nanaimo, BC. Shortly af­ter­wards, she had them all moved into stor­age, say­ing the ar­range­ments with the mall were un­sat­is­fac­tory. Four truck­loads of Lund ex­hibits even­tu­ally made their way back to stor­age in Prince Al­bert thanks to Mayor Greg Dionne. They en­joyed a brief re­vival at Gate­way Mall where they were put on dis­play in Septem­ber 2016.

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