Have you ever been to a Gopher hole museum?
Soo…Have you ever been to a Gopher hole museum?
That’s probably one of the strangest questions I’ll never be asked, which is exactly the reason I feel the urge to bring it up. Yes I have been to a Gopher hole museum! As far as I know there’s only the one and it’s in Torrington, Alberta. I’ve got to say it was one of the weirdest fun road trips I’ve done in Alberta since I’ve been living here these last 4 years.
Ok, since you brought it up. What the hell is a Gopher Hole Museum?
It’s a museum for gopher holes, clearly…
I hate you…
Ha! Ok no need to get angry.
The Gopher hole museum is located in Torrington, Alberta, which is a hamlet approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) northeast of Calgary at the junction of Highway 27 and Highway 805. It’s a tiny house that was converted into the main attraction for this community of slightly more than 150 people. I’m pretty sure the attraction is mostly in the name, unless I’m completely unaware of a rabid fan base of gophers.
For those of you that don’t know, small towns are like your closest group of friends or a close knit family. They all know each other’s quirks and they embrace each other’s weirdness. It’s like how your friends are fine with the fact ALL of your Christmas decorations are nutcrackers, to the point where they’re not even Christmas themed anymore and some of them stay out all year around. That’s perfectly normal to them now.
Well Torrington’s quirk is that when there’s a freshly killed gopher on someone’s nearby farm, it gets brought to a taxidermist to get stuffed. Then they put it in the museum!
Sooo it’s a museum of dead gophers? You got the weird, wheres the fun part?
This is the fun part!
It’s like some real life Dinner for Schmucks stuff! Only instead of mice dioramas, they’re gopher hole dioramas. If you’re not weirded out and realize it’s all a big joke you’re not going to hurt anyone’s feelings for laughing, the town’s in on it. The lady working at the museum told us all about how it started as a joke to attract a few tourists. Believe it or not but this tiny town gets about 7000 visitors a year dropping by to check out this tiny museum!
To put that into perspective, that’s almost 42x the number of people living in the town, if New York City got that kind of tourism they would get 352.8 million tourists each year! But unfortunately for them, they only get a paltry 56.4 million (6.71x their population) tourists per year. I think this might make Torrington the most visited community per capita in the world!
The lady working was full of great information and I hope all of the other people that work there is as informative as her. She told us all about the different types of gophers, where they’re stuffed, how they chose some of the displays and a whole lot more.
Sometimes the museum gets bus loads of people to drop by to check it out. I’m not sure what bus tours include gopher hole museums on their agendas, but I’d like to find out! I wonder what other places they stop at. Unfortunately the museum is just a tiny building. The main room is maybe 20 feet by 12 feet that you just walk a tiny loop around. It would be extremely packed for these buses and some people might have missed out on the museum’s awesomeness if the town hadn’t painted all of their 11 fire hydrants like gophers! Yes, the museum is prepared for these big groups in the fact they send half the bus around to check out the painted hydrants while the other half looks at the dioramas. Of course, I had to grab a map and get pictures of all of the gopher hole museum fire hydrants as well!
One of the biggest claims from the museum is the diorama they were asked to create for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. I don’t know why or who asked them to do it, but they made a diorama of a gopher? That was shipped out to Vancouver and was put on display for the Olympics.
There’s dozens of dioramas with stuffed gophers in different outfits doing everyday things. Almost all of them have bad puns related to them and it’s sure to be a good way to spend half a day if you’re ever looking for a roadtrip in Alberta. Here’s just a couple more for good measure.