Skip to content

Many a wild animal stood in for pets

Campbell River Museum exhibit explores settlers’ relationships with animals
Dolly Pidcock plays with a cat and a cougar cub. Many early settlers to the Campbell River area took on wild animals as pets.

In the past, people had different relationships to animals than we do today.

This was especially true amongst the early European settlers in this region, who were struggling to carve a living out of the dense Pacific rain forest.

All animals had to contribute to group survival in this harsh environment.

The Museum at Campbell River will have some exclusive photos of these pets from the past on display in a temporary exhibit entitled ‘Animals Among Us’ from Jan. 23 – March 30.

Some of the duties fulfilled by animals in years gone by included the tasks of providing milk, meat, eggs and wool, as well as acting as protectors and companions. Fred Nunns, one of the earliest European settlers to Campbell River, kept many animals: cows, pigs, horses, poultry, dogs and cats.

As you will see through this photographic exhibit, in many cases animals were considered important members of the family. Many early settlers lived deep in inlets and on islands and kept large numbers of cats and dogs for company. There were no local pet stores or animal rescue societies from whom to adopt pets, and an untamed wilderness at one’s doorstep could lead to the adoption of many nonconventional animals.

Some of the more peculiar ones included cougar, bear, and deer.

Many of these adoptions were the direct result of hunting and although these animals made great pets when young, as they grew older they often had to be sent away to zoos.

The Museum has produced a charming 16-month calendar to accompany the exhibit, and they are now available for sale in the gift shop. For any inquiries, call 250-287-3103.