Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine has featured Lino Grifone and his Western Canada School of Taxidermy, which he’s operated in Castlegar since 1991. Called “Institute of Higher Preserving,” the article appeared in the publication’s Summer 2021 issue and describes how the school was Canada’s first private training institute. Today Grifone offers a six-day course that focuses on modern techniques of taxidermy.

Writer Jeff Pew and photographer Kari Medig were sent to record Grifone in his workshop, located at 1693 Silverwood Crescent just south of the city’s downtown core near the shores of the Columbia River. There Grifone, 64, shared with them the history of how he got into taxidermy half a century ago. He was hunting grouse and after shooting one he was so enamoured with its beauty, he took it home and set about trying to preserve it using information he’d learned from a correspondence course. Pew writes: “He preserved the hide with borax, draped it over a mannequin he had carved out of foam, and sewed the seams with fishing line. ‘A few hours later, our short-haired pointer took off with it,’ he says. ‘I never saw it again, but I was hooked.'”

An example of Lino Grifone’s taxidermy work. He has mounted everything from big cats and foxes (below) to bears, deer, goats, sheep, and porcupine.

Aside from courses, Grifone also offers custom taxidermy services as well as advice to those hunters looking for information about how to dress an animal in the field in preparation for mounting. Just don’t ask him to work on your pet. “Occasionally, someone requests to have their dog or cat mounted, but I don’t have the heart to skin someone’s pet,” he says in the article. He goes on to say that mountain goat and sheep are his favourite animals to hunt and mount but his bread and butter is deer.

Pew explains in the article that Grifone has worked as a pipe fitter, park ranger, and oil-field safety officer over the years but first and foremost he considers himself as artist. He sculpts animals in bronze as well as taxidermy and says in the piece, “Like any artist who’s blessed with a talent, I’d feel guilty not continuing to ply my craft. I retired from my job a long time ago, but I’ll continue creating until I can’t.”

For more about the Western Canada School of Taxidermy, visit grifonetaxidermy.com and to read the Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine article in its entirety, visit mountainculturegroup.com.