Stuffed animals

A profile of Jim Baxter of Telesky Taxidermy

The only thing he won’t mount is a pet.

“You just can’t capture the character. With any other animal that doesn’t really matter. But a pet, you want that to look like you remember it.”

His biggest markets are hunters, fishermen and lodge owners. He winces when he recalls an early job that had him pilloried in the taxidermy community. A lodge owner wanted a bear mounted, one paw on top of a case of beer, another paw clutching a beer.

He has regretted doing the job ever since.

“Everyone looked at it as you’re defiling the animal. They were pretty upset with me.”

Baxter used to hunt but he doesn’t anymore.

“I won’t hunt anything I won’t eat. After a while you get sick of it.”

And a look inside The Contemporary Zoological Conservatory.

Mavis stands next to her favourite piece, a bear – they’re both 5-foot-4 – which used to be the mascot of a fur shop in Peterborough, Ont. “It is part of our past and it has a Canadian context. We’re a nation that started on fur trading. I’m just really interested in the stories and the art.”

She points to a raccoon who is grinning despite the fact that he is missing his ears and his fur has been bleached by the sun. “I was walking near Spadina Circle near [the University of Toronto] and he was just sitting in the bushes.”

He was already stuffed, she clarifies.

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