New Yellowknife gallery aims to tell stories in taxidermy

Two grolar bears, a mix between a polar bear and a grizzly bear, at the Natures North Wildlife Gallery. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

A new art gallery is coming to Yellowknife this June, though this one will offer visitors an experience that’s not quite like most galleries.

Greg Robertson has been in the taxidermy business for close to 40 years, creating scenes with animals to depict their habitats and the behaviours they displayed while alive.

One of his more popular pieces can be found at the Yellowknife Airport: a large polar bear on its way to snag a seal that’s just barely escaping through a hole in the ice.

Now Robertson and brother Dean are opening the Natures North Wildlife Gallery, which they intend to turn into an educational experience for people looking to learn more about northern Arctic species.



A wood buffalo with its young at the Natures North Wildlife Gallery. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

The gallery will represent Arctic fauna in their natural habitats, portraying how the animals interact with different ecosystems.

Jessie Olson, a taxidermist on the gallery’s team, said Robertson “is more of an artist – he wanted to create something where people can experience Arctic animals.”

“People don’t really get to see them on their day-to-day, unless you can spare the expense to go up to the Arctic and see muskox and different species of caribou,” Olson continued. “They’re all kind-of here, and he’s made them true to their form.”

Robertson says his passion lies in storytelling rather than showing off the size of an animal.



“A lot of taxidermists want to show their work and they want it to be the biggest animal,” he told Cabin Radio.

“This gallery is about telling the stories of the animals and educating people on animals that they may not know about.”

The Natures North Wildlife Gallery team. From left: Copper the dog, Dean Robertson, Verca Slaba, Greg Robertson and Jessie Olson. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

An example of this, he said, is a display of weasels. Sixty-seven species of weasels exist in the world, he explained, and the NWT is home to seven. What most people don’t know, Robertson continued, is the identity of the largest weasel in the territory: the wolverine.

Meanwhile, a group of black bears in the gallery is designed to illustrate that the bears can have brown faces and bodies, despite their name, resulting in people often confusing them for grizzly bears.

The arrangement of animals in the gallery also includes a mother fox playing with her pup, who is distracted by a butterfly. This kind of setting, said Robertson, will allow visitors to learn about the animals while also envisioning them in their natural habitat – where people can rarely experience them.

The gallery is located at 7 Ellesmere Drive and will host a grand opening on June 3 from 10am-4pm.

At the grand opening, people will be able to walk through the exhibits and learn about the stuffed animals. Admission to the event will be $10, though children under 12 can enter for free.