Last year we replaced our old beaver taxidermy mount with a new one. The old one was acquired in the 1980s and had faded to the point of whiteness due to the sun shining through the windows. There is a protective coating on the windows to keep out some of the light rays, but over twenty years’ worth of exposure is bound to cause damage. It’s why we rotate hallway exhibits of sensitive artifacts frequently (at least once a year) and keep items covered when the museum is closed.
Here’s the old beaver:
We use the beaver to illustrate the fur trade in Morrison County. It was the oldest formal business in our area. Note the beaver top hat in the picture above.
Because the beaver had faded from the sun, we used that feature as a teaching tool, explaining to children on school tours how NOT to take care of artifacts. We were fond of the old beaver, even if it was a rather scary looking mount. He was a favorite among our school tour students, too.
Eventually, we decided he needed to be retired and a couple of years ago we launched an effort to replace him. We put out a call for donations for a new beaver mount and received funds from the Randall Sportsman’s Club, the Morrison County chapter of Pheasants Forever, and MCHS member Leonard G. We contacted a local trapper, Jeff O., who frequently traps beaver, and asked if he could donate the hide of one he had trapped. He did. We took this to Randy Hamson of Stoney Hills Taxidermy in Cushing, Minnesota, and had him create the mount. Here’s the result:
The new beaver was so realistic and attractive that museum staff took to talking to him. He wasn’t put on display immediately, but sat on a cart that we wheeled around to various locations in the museum, where we’d happen along him unexpectedly and feel the need to greet him. (We don’t know why we keep calling our beavers “he” and “him.” He just seems like a boy to us.)
Because we kept conversing with him, we decided we needed to name him. We created a naming contest for students on our 2010 spring school tours. We received 327 suggestions. Names were submitted by students from the following schools: Lincoln and Lindbergh Elementary Schools in Little Falls, Oak Hill and Prince of Peace in St. Cloud, Pioneer Elementary in Pierz, and Royalton Elementary.
We discovered a lot of duplication in the name suggestions we received, including a number of Bills, Bobs, Brownies, Bucks, Chips, Chomps, Chucks, Steves, and Woodys. Four students from four different schools thought we should call our beaver “Justin Beaver,” a play on the name of current teen music sensation Justin Bieber. We discarded the duplicate names in the interest of not having winners who would have to split the prize money. (We had forewarned students not to copy each other in naming the beaver.)
From the remaining names, we chose a number of finalists, including Jelly Bean, Pine Cone, Watab, Sir Chompsalot, Charlie Canoe, Flap Jack, Nate the Dude, Flapper, Coco, Bubbles, Chukls (we liked the way it was misspelled!), Wammy, Builder, Morrie, Fuzz Ball, Bandit Fandit, and Bosco.
From there, we narrowed the list down to our top five: Chukls, Watab, Charlie Canoe, Pine Cone, and Sir Chompsalot. MCHS President Art Warner made the final selection … Sir Chompsalot.
The name was suggested by Matthew H. of Lindbergh Elementary School. Matthew’s teacher was Deb Goodrich.
Congratulations, Matthew! Thanks to all of the students and teachers for helping us name the beaver. Thanks also to our donors, trapper and taxidermist.