The York Sunbury Museum’s most well known artefact is the taxidermy remains of the Coleman Frog. This frog lived in Killarney Lake just north of Fredericton (New Brunswick, Canada) in the late 19th-century. When discovered he was the size of an average frog but after Fred Coleman discovered a way to feed it people food the frog gained weight topping the scales at 42 pounds. The friendship between Fred and this amazing frog grew and over time the frog would come when called or to a dinner bell and entertained Fred’s guests. On occasion the frog was shy and would not always come out when called but there are reports of people seeing the frog when it was alive. After the Coleman Frog was killed in a dynamite “accident” Fred sent its remains to a taxidermist in Bangor Maine after which it was displayed in a glass case at Fred’s hotel in Fredericton.
There is a picture of the Frog in the hotel lobby that shows the Coleman Frog in its case in the hotel where its skin is speckled and very real looking unlike its painted appearance that it has today. Story has it that after Fred passed away the glass cover came off the case and the Coleman Frog was used as an ashtray for inebriated hotel patrons. Sometime between this and being donated to the York Sunbury Museum the frog was “repaired” and painted it’s unnatural green colour that it has now.
The Coleman Frog was sent to the Canadian Conservation Institute in 1988 and underwent two years of conservation treatment and it was determined at that time that the taxidermy methods used on the frog were consistent with late 19th-century techniques. We are told that other authenticity tests came back inconclusive.
Real or not … it’s difficult to say. All the eye witnesses have passed on and we are left with stories and tales. The Coleman Frog has been entertaining museum visitors since 1959 and fires the imagination of both children and adults alike. People and crowds huddle around to have their picture taken with this wonder and many walk away believers.
I consider myself very lucky to work with the Coleman Frog … he is a real treasure.
[Please note, the York Sunbury Museum changed it’s name to the Fredericton Region Museum in 2010.]
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I actually found an interesting article from the early 1890’s explaining how the frog got so large.
An early American actor was passing through Fredericton and told Mr. Coleman that he had a book at has home in Massachussets, that he had picked up in France, that explained how to grow large frogs. He sent it to Coleman when he returned home and with this info., Coleman was able to feed it a proper diet to help it grow.
Wow! I have never heard of this!! Thanks so much for posting your comment!
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Hi We found an old postcard in an inherited cookbook. The postcard is the one in the photo above. Is it just a reproduction? there is no price no manufacturer. The back simply states Made in Canada in English only where the stamp would go,POST CARD carte postale and the coat of arms. Any info appreciated
It could be an original. The type of paper that it is printed on should be a good indication. Photo postcards date from the early to mid 20th century. If you’re in Fredericton, drop by the office with it and we can take a look, or drop by a local antique store and ask the owner.
Here’s a few helpful links:
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I live across Killarney Lake and remember the stories well. My Nannie told me. She also said that there was a hotel there as well. She called it Williams Hotel……….Was that right.? Would like to see pic of it. I swam here when I was little
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Hi there! The link in this article to the “York Sunbury Museum” just leads to some weird law blog. I have no idea what the correct url is… it seems to be hard to find.
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