This week’s featured artifact is a partial bison skull with its horn sheaths still present. Bison, like other true horned animals, have two bone horn cores growing out of their skulls that are not shed yearly, instead their horns continue to grow every year, as does the keratinous sheath covering them. Keratin is a very tough fibrous substance found in many places. A short list includes the outer layer of human skin, hair and nails, as well as cat claws, bird beaks, tortoise shells, and porcupine quills.
This partial skull and others were donated by Dr. Frederick Henry Sutherland (1891-1963) who was an avid collector of fossils, arrowheads, coins and stamps. Dr. Sutherland first came to the Peace region in 1913 when he filed on a homestead, along with two of his brothers. He then returned to Ontario, where he was born and raised, to finish his medical training. After serving at a field hospital near the war front during the First World War, he returned to Peace River, in 1919, to establish a medical practice.
Dr. Sutherland and his wife, Clara Richards, made their life in Peace River, along with their 3 children. As a civic minded individual, Dr. Sutherland also served on the St. James’ Cathedral vestry and was mayor of Peace River for 16 years.