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Campaign under way to house significant County taxidermy collection

At the launch of the fundraising campaign for the Jake de Vries natural heritage collection, from left, Terry Sprague, Janet Keogh, of the Prince Edward Stewardship Council, Johanna de Vries, Jane Moon and Janice Hubbs, curator at the Ameliasburgh Heritage VIllage.

At the launch of the fundraising campaign for the Jake de Vries natural heritage collection, from left, Terry Sprague, Janet Keogh, of the Prince Edward Stewardship Council, Johanna de Vries, Jane Moon and Janice Hubbs, curator at the Ameliasburgh Heritage VIllage.

A campaign to share the significant and magnificent taxidermy collection of the County’s Jake de Vries is officially under way with the launch this week of a fundraising campaign.

Jake-de-Vries-collection-for-museum-1The collection of about 500 items crafted by de Vries over more than 50 years, ranges from waterfowl and song birds to mammals, reptiles and fish. Its home will be the Ameliasburgh Heritage Village.

Wife Johanna and children John de Vries and Jane Moon inherited the collection in 2008, and along with friends and associates, formed the Jake de Vries Collection Group to plan the collection’s long-term future.

The County Museums expressed interest in providing a home and learned during a visit by an ornithologist from the Royal Ontario Museum that the collection is one of the finest private examples of taxidermy in the province. It needs an adequately sixed facility with proper environmental conditions to ensure its long-term preservation.

The estimated cost for the project, is set at $275,000, inclusive of an $85,000 reserve to maintain the retrofitted “Green Barn” building. The fundraising was launched Monday with a $15,000 donation from the Prince Edward Stewardship Council. Earlier this month, $7,500 was received from the Stark Family Fund. The County has set aside $22,000 in its 2017 capital budget.

“This is an incredible display and you can imagine the amount of hours of dedication and professionalism and talent to do this,” said Mayor Robert Quaiff noting pride that Prince Edward County has the opportunity to showcase the collection for school children and the public interested in its history and heritage,” he said, thanking the many volunteers, and museum curator Jennifer Lyons for her enthusiasm.

Naturalist Terry Sprague met de Vries in the 60s and they became fast friends. de Vries was not a hunter himself, but acquired the carcasses from a variety of sources – including the then department of lands and forests which had been illegally hunted, some found by hunters, some gathered at lighthouses where migrating birds had collided, and others, road kill.

“I think what fascinated me the most was his ability to display his subjects in a pose that was natural for the species on a base that replicated its natural environment.”

Sprague noted that at the time, he was one of just eight licenced taxidermists in Ontario and one of 28 in Canada.

“It’s important the de Vries natural heritage collection will remain in the County – and intact. It is a fitting tribute to a man who had a love for wildlife and such a gift for bringing these lifeless creature back to life. With these grants and donations, and many more to come, Jake de Vries’ legacy will live on,” said Sprague.

His family is pleased the collection will be properly cared for.

“Jake would be really pleased if he was here to see so many people here tonight. I am very glad this will be going to the museum because it will be a good place for people to see it,” said wife Johanna de Vries.

Daughter Jane Moon said it would certainly be her dad’s wish that the collection be accessible and available to the community through the museum.

“He always really enjoyed when school children would come, or different people would come to the house to see it. He was in his element when he could talk about the display. It wasn’t prideful, it was just he loved to share it with people. My dad would be very happy.”

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  1. Paul W says:

    Amazing! I can’t wait to see the collection once setup at the Ameliasburgh Heritage Village.

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