Gopher Hole Museum: Better Than The Smithsonian

July 26, 2013

I don’t even know how to start this post. I’m so excited that I’m basically speechless. Which, in blog form, translates to typeless. This post is about to be the best/worst/best/most horrendous/greatest//best/most horrifying/most excellent/best/worst/best thing that has ever happened to you. EVER. E.V.E.R.

It is Friday, so you may be looking forward to Listday. Here’s what I have to say about that: Who needs dumb Friday Listday this week? NOT US, GUYS.

Because we have something so much better. It can only be shared in pictorial essay form. You will soon see why. This one shall be called “Gopher Grandness: On How I Discovered The Best Thing That Has Ever Been a Thing In The History of All Things That Have Ever Existed. Ever.”

So, yesterday my friend Tara and I hung out. She wanted to show me some of the happening spots in Central Alberta. She picked me up in her cute Mini Cooper and we went and got donuts at the Donut Mill.

Tara got a Rolo donut. Little did I know that the delicious donuts would pale in comparison to the greatness that we were about to experience.


Then we headed south to fulfill a dream of mine. A dream that I had no clue was so much bigger, better and creepier than I could have imagined…

When you’re driving along the main highway in Alberta (Queen Elizabeth Highway, obvs), there is a sign for the gopher hole museum. I’ve passed it a few times, and said to Andrew, “Let’s go to the gopher museum!” He answers with, “We are never going there.” Luckily, when Tara and I were discussing what we should do for our Day of Fun, she suggested we go to the gopher museum. I was thrilled!

The museum is about an hour south of The Deer in a town called Torrington. Torrington is home to about zero and a half people. And a lot of gophers. We pulled into the town and took a picture by the old gopher mascot. (This reminded me of home, because the University of Minnesota’s mascot is a gopher, which is kind of dumb, because gophers are not intimidating or frightening. At least that’s what I thought. Until I went to the gopher museum.)


All the fire hydrants in Torrington have gophers on them!


Finally, we arrived at the museum. This is before I knew what wonders it held inside.


It’s world famous, guys. As we were getting out of the car, I asked Tara what it was all about. Do they just have lots of info about gophers? Do they track the migration patterns of gophers? Do they have a guy dressed up as a mascot who I can take pictures with? Tara gave me a funny look and said, “Do you really not know what’s in this museum? I am so excited!”

We entered the front room of the museum, and met Bertie, who was working the counter. It was $2 to enter, so we paid up and glanced at the knick knacks she was selling. It was then that Bertie pointed to a glass case behind my back. “This one,” she said, “is Albert. He’s the only one we’ve named. He went to the Vancouver Olympics.”

I turned around. And saw this. I stifled a gasp of pure joy/fear/joy-again-because-is-this-actually-what-this-gopher-museum-is-about?

(Click on the picture for a closer look. You won’t (probably will) regret it.)



Then we entered the “museum.” The one room that houses more than 40 dioramas of taxidermied gophers in various scenes and situations. The gopher hole museum, you guys.


You do not even know how overjoyed my heart was that this is a thing that exists. I took pictures of them all. Of them all. Just for you, dear friends. Let’s take a look.

Torrington loves tourists who come visit the gopher museum. These stuffed, dead gophers wanted you to know that.


This fire-fighting gopher should be careful of that hose, you guys!


That’s right. Some of them have captions for added entertainment value and shenanigans. (Also, that’s an actual dead gopher in a fire fighter’s uniform, in case you were wondering.)


This case had a 50s theme, obvs. You can tell by the stuffed gophers who are wearing a poodle skirt and leather jacket. That is how you can tell. Guys. That’s how. You can tell by the stuffed gophers wearing 50s clothing.


This gopher is giving a nod to the native population.


Laura Ingalls probably saw tons of gophers on the prairie. Perhaps they looked a little something like this.


These dead gophers are waiting for the train. Hope it’s not late!


This was one of my favorites. It’s a parade scene. Except no one seems to have shown up except for a terrifying gopher clown and an albino gopher cowboy.


Bertie informed me that the albino gophers are rare. They only have two of them in the whole museum. They are rare and extra horrifying, as Tara pointed out to me. Look at its feet. Look at its eyes. LOOK.


You guys. There are so many more. BUT, we have to savor this treasure for as long as possible. I will show them to you slowly, over time. We can enjoy this magical gopher world of wonder and magic for months to come. Get excited.

There is a guestbook at the museum, which we signed with joy and abandon.


I am forever grateful to Tara for bringing me here and introducing me to these terrifying gophers who will probably haunt my dreams tonight. Worth it.

You don’t even have to ask because the answer is of course, yes, I will take you to this museum when you come to visit Alberta. 

OK, I have to go. Take your time here, though. Enjoy the pics. Pass them on to your friends. Come back next week for another exciting scene, which may or may not include gophers wearing bathing suits and/or playing harmonicas and/or committing bank robberies.


Have a wonderful weekend filled with gopher joy!

11 Responses to “Gopher Hole Museum: Better Than The Smithsonian”

  1. Ginna said

    You have no idea how much joy this brought me this morning!! I used to think that Canada was nothing special and this has TOTALLY changed my mind.

  2. denisemorris said

    Ginna — right? Isn’t it just the best? Come visit!

  3. O.H. M.Y. W.O.R.D.! Who knew! This settles it, for my 30th anniversary I am begging my husband to bring me to Alberta and the Gopher museum. It’s the motivation I need to make this marriage work for a few more years. And also, is that Jilly bean admiring the gophers in the one picture? I would almost swear it was.

  4. Lydia said

    I’m frightened to think someone actually spent time collecting and stuffing these little critters for amusement. I can’t decide if I should be joyful or traumatized. Oh Canada!

  5. denisemorris said

    Chatty — You should actually go visit. Totally worth the 20-hour drive. Not Jilly Bean, but you’re right! It could be her!

    Lydia — Isn’t it the best? There was a guest book with lots of letters from PETA. They do NOT approve of the gopher hole museum.

  6. Anonymous said

    You make me sound like a jerk.

  7. denisemorris said

    Anonymous — are you a gopher? Specifically, are you the albino cowboy gopher? I didn’t mean to make you sound like a jerk. But, your eyes did deserve an extra comment. We all agree.

  8. Sarena said

    Again…laughing aloud.. who knew?!?! How did the Olympic gopher get chosen? Was he/she an extraordinary model, or was he/she a fresh addition? Did it smell in the museum? My, my, Sooooo funny! 🙂

  9. Lindsay said

    Best. Museum. Ever. Can’t wait for more creepy gopher dioramas.

  10. […] order to recover from the excitement of the Gopher Hole Museum, I decided I needed a little vacay. So, right now I’m on Vancouver Island with Andrew’s […]

  11. […] Let’s start this post out right, you guys. With a little gem from the Gopher Hole Museum. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: