July 22, 2024 July 22, 2024

The Banff Merman: A Sea Mystery Swimming in the Canadian Rockies

Posted on 9 July 2024 by Nerissa McNaughton

Known as the Banff Merman, this bizarre taxidermy creation is a must-see for all who venture to the Banff Trading Post.

The Banff Merman, with its grotesque mix of mammalian and aquatic features, is one of the few mummified mermaids (or mermen) found around the world. Its origin remains a mystery, and its age is unknown, adding to the allure and intrigue of this maritime oddity. While the exact origin of the Banff Merman is unknown, it's believed to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th century. Some speculate that it came from Asia, where similar mummified mermaids have been found.

The Merman is an example of a Jenny Haniver, a term used for varied marine creatures altered through drying and carving. These creations have been circulated among sailors since the Renaissance, often passed off as “real” specimens of merfolk! While the Banff Merman may be one of the most well-known, it's not the only mummified mermaid in existence. Similar creatures can be found in various parts of the world, particularly in Japan, where they are known as Ningyo. The British Museum in London also houses a famous mummified mermaid, referred to as the Feejee Mermaid, which was once a part of P.T. Barnum's circus.

The Banff Merman remains a fascinating piece of maritime folklore, a testament to human creativity and our fascination with the unknown. Whether you're a fan of oddities, folklore, or maritime mysteries, the Banff Merman is a sight to behold.

So, when you're next in Banff, take a break from the breathtaking mountain views and venture into the Banff Trading Post. Who knows? You might just come face-to-face with a creature from the deep!

Nerissa McNaughton is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Great West Media & Southern Alberta Newspapers Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. The Hot Summer Guide is a special feature about summer activities, bucket list adventures, staycation options, road trips, attractions, events, and road trip-worthy food & beverage destinations across Alberta. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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