Johanna de Vries, John de Vries and Jane Moon have inherited the remarkable taxidermy collection of their husband and father Jake de Vries. Many friends and associates of the de Vries family were aware of the quantity, quality and local significance of this collection. Some of these people approached the de Vries family to respectfully ask if the family had decided what might happen to the collection in the long term. That is when a small group calling themselves the Jake de Vries Collection Group began to discuss the how, why, when, and where with respect to the collection’s future.
In time, the County Museums expressed interest in providing a permanent home for the collection. After careful consideration, it was determined that the Ameliasburgh Heritage Village would be the most appropriate site for the collection, considering both the size and mandate of the museum.
The collection is comprised of nearly 500 specimens, ranging from waterfowl to song birds to mammals, large and small, and fish. A site visit with an Ornithologist from the Royal Ontario Museum determined that this collection is one of the finest private collections of taxidermy in the province. As such, the collection requires an adequately sized facility with proper environmental conditions to ensure the long-term preservation of the mounts.
The de Vries family is now ready to move the collection, pleased that it could be held in public trust with the museum system, particularly since Johanna and Jake always opened their doors to schoolchildren and other interested groups who wanted to view and learn from the collection. The Ameliasburgh Heritage Village has identified its “Green Barn” as a potential home for the collection, pending County Council’s approval in principle. The building has ample space, but requires significant structural upgrades to be suitable for the collection, in addition to appropriate exhibition materials such as cases, plinths, hanging systems and interpretive panels. The estimated cost for the project is $275,000.
This collection tells incredible stories about our natural world, its biodiversity, both the carelessness and conservation efforts of humankind and last, but not least, the craftsmanship of Jake de Vries and his lifelong passion for preserving natural heritage for both public education and aesthetic appreciation. Creating a permanent home and exhibition for this impressive collection will ensure that an unparalleled educational resource will remain in Prince Edward County for the benefit of its residents, visitors and generations to come.