At first glance the smart log Banff Museum is a very Victorian look at park natural history, via a fairly encyclopaedic collection of local stuffed animals and curios. It’s all a bit out of step with today’s attitudes, but provides a chance to see species at close quarters and appreciate how Banff’s tourism has evolved. And the snug Edwardian wood-panelled reading room full of magazines and books on nature and wildlife is perfect spot to while away a rainy afternoon.
The museum’s stuffed inmates were originally assembled for the Victorian and Edwardian gentry to inspect at their leisure and without any effort and in an era when hunting in the park was considered allowed – which lasted with increasing restrictions into the 1930s. The animals include moose, elk, sheep, goats, black bears, grizzlies wolves, coyotes, foxes, cougars, lynx, eagles, owls and hawks. Meanwhile the Cabinet of Curiosities includes albino mammals, ants nests, a bison leg stuck in a Douglas fir and a mammoth’s leg bone.
There’s also a small section on the long-time museum curator Norman Bethune Sanson, who climbed Sulphur Mountain some 1000 times.
Admission is included in annual National Park Pass – but you’ll need to show the same pass as needs to be displayed in your vehicle, so park nearby.