What My Collection of Wolf Originals Soapstone Means to Me

For collector Lynn Mabley, each piece of Wolf Originals soapstone calls to mind a visit to Jasper National Park.

Wolf Originals soapstone collectionPhoto: Lynn Mabley

The Story of My Wolf Originals Soapstone Collection

Living in Alberta, my favourite place has always been the Rocky Mountains. In the mid 1990s, the opportunity arose for my husband and I to move to the town of Hinton, which is just a 20-minute drive from Jasper National Park, and a dream of mine to live near the mountains came true. Living so close to the park, it became routine that when family and friends would visit, much time would be happily spent touring the Jasper area.

While there, we would check out all the little gift shops in Jasper and admire all the unique gifts and collectibles. I thought it would be nice to start collecting pieces from one specific line. Since I’ve always admired wildlife and the use of natural products in art, I decided upon Wolf Originals, part of The Wolf Sculptures series of Canadian-carved soapstone animals.

The first piece in my new collection was a wonderfully carved bear and thereafter, I would seek out different Wolf Original soapstone animals on every Jasper visit with friends or family. Each figurine was hand-carved with amazing care and attention to detail—every ear and nose hollowed out to perfection, each line replicating the fur of the mammals, the feathers of a bird or the patterned tail of the beaver. The soapstone colours of gray and white replicated the colours of the Rocky Mountains, and every piece was marked with the initials WE, confirming it was a Wolf Original.

The pieces were picked up at a variety of gift shops while touring throughout Jasper National Park. I found some at the Maligne Lake and Maligne Canyon gift shops after taking in the beautiful surrounding views. I’ve acquired others on trips to the Columbia Icefields, making a visit to the gift shop after sightseeing at the Athabasca Glacier. I’ve also stopped in at the Sunwapta Falls gift shop, after viewing the falls, and bought one up there. And others were purchased in the beautiful town of Jasper itself, at a few of its numerous gift shops.

After a ten-year span of typically annual visits, I’d collected ten “keepers” in all: the original bear, and then a squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, beaver, duck, eagle, seal and two wolves. The final purchase I made was in 2005. I’ve made more trips to Jasper since then, but only found an odd piece here and there, usually an animal I already had. They can be purchased online through a number of sites, but that defeats the purpose of why I was buying them. Each of the ten represents a beautiful visit to Jasper National Park with loving family and friends, which I will never forget.

Next, check out 10 quirky collections from across Canada.

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Originally Published in Our Canada