Quirky Attraction: The Gopher Hole Museum

You haven’t lived ’til you’ve visited a museum full of dead gophers dressed as humans. Who hasn’t dreamed of seeing stuffed gophers recreating a curling scene?

curling-gophers

That diorama is just one of more than 40 such scenes at the Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington, Alberta – ahem, the World Famous Gopher Hole Museum, as they delightfully insist on calling themselves.

Literally the entire facility consists of these mini-scenes of taxidermied critters enjoying human life and wearing human clothes. There are gophers on a picnic, gophers hunting in the woods, gophers in a train station, gophers in church, gopher Mounted Police. Even a rousing card game at the senior center!

gophers-playing-cards

I’ve been dying to visit this kooky place since Raymond from Man on the Lam wrote about it years ago. Last year’s road trip through the Canadian prairies finally gave me the opportunity to stop by.

Visiting the Gopher Hole Museum in Alberta

The small museum costs only two bucks to enter. The little scenes are placed inside a small boxes, which are placed all around the room.

gopher-museum-interior

It’s easy to see how much fun the curators had with these scenes. The gophers are like little Barbie dolls, which can be dressed up and manipulated to create any sort of scene they want.

Like a beautifully touching wedding. I see a promising future for these two. I’m guessing neither one is going anywhere for a long, long time.

gopher wedding

Meet the James Dean of gophers. Young rodents in love!

gopher-james-dean

Blacksmith hard at work.

gopher-scene-anvil-blacksmith

It’s an old tyme jamboree! This bands look cool, but I bet they could take things to the next level if they added a banjo player.

gopher-museum-jamboree

The level of tiny detail in this place reminds me of the Toy & Miniature Museum. Just look at the detail in this bank robber scene. The money bags, the office door plate, the flowers on the dress, the trees on the painting. Even the diamond-shaped tiles on the floor!

gopher-robbery

The work of tilling the soil never stops.

gopher-old-sod-house

The cashier I spoke with said they don’t add new gophers often, which was disappointing, because I think adding new scenes would be the best way to turn one-time guests into repeat visitors. However, it’s clear that they do occasionally make updates, because they had this one in honor of Canada’s 150th anniversary, which was celebrated in the summer of 2017:

canada-150-years-diorama

A First Nations gopher with an impressive fire pit:

gopher-first-nations

Some of the gophers have snarky thought bubbles. There’s no need to be sarcastic, Gloria – I think your client looks fabulous!

gopher-beautician

A tiny butterfly caught by a tiny net.

gopher-butterfly-catcher

It’s time for a gopher fashion show! I’m afraid these two could use some help from Gloria the beautician.

gopher-fashion-show

Where do the gophers come from? I wondered if there was some formal process for obtaining dead gophers, but I was told their collection is just kind of random. Someone may shoot one, or they may find a dead gopher outside their home. Everyone in the small town knows about the museum, so any deceased rodents end up getting forwarded to this place.

gopher-hole-museum-torrington

If You’re Going: The Gopher Hole Museum

Address: 208 1 St S, Torrington, Alberta T0M2B0, Canada (Google Map)
Cost: $2
When to Visit: Open everyday 10am-5pm between June 1-September 30. Closed the rest of the year, but they promise to do their best to accommodate folks who show up outside of that date range. Call them (403-631-2133) to see if they have someone available to show you around.
Website: http://gopherholemuseum.ca (unofficial)
Budget Lodging Nearby: Motel8
Upscale Lodging Nearby: Pomeroy Inn & Suites
Further Reading: Gophers: Animals of Mass Destruction (Amazon)

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About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend Booking.com where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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