Tamarack Goose Decoy


Accession Number: 2019.ast.124


This object consists of thin twigs, all about the same width (about 1.5mm), bundled together into a goose shape, with a wide body, narrow neck, and a head formed of a straight section and a curved section looped around to join it. The twigs that form the tail have been trimmed to a point. The goose stands on a tripod of thicker twigs for “feet”.

With the goose there is a small cardboard label.

Alternative Name: Tamarak goose decoy

Primary Materials:

Wood (tamarack twigs), Textiles (thread), Sinew (?)


Typed on the label: “TAMARAK GOOSE
A traditional decoy made from twigs of the tamarak, native to the Northern Muskeg. When on the snow, the gap in the head gives the effect of the white face of the goose. Made in Moose Factory by Howard Jelly 85/4/16”

Dimensions (cm): Length = 24, Width = 11.3, Height = 23


The artifact is an art object constructed like goose decoys traditionally used to lure geese into landing by Cree hunters in the James Bay region.


Excellent: The goose is in excellent condition. A small number of twigs have been broken on the right and left sides of the body of the goose.

Manufacturer: Artist: Howard Jelly, Moose Factory

Date of Manufacture: 1985


According to accompanying documentation, the goose was purchased in 1985 or shortly thereafter by the David Dunlap Observatory, possibly alongside another piece of art (now in the University of Toronto art collection). It was moved from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2009, upon the sale of the observatory. It was stored at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics until 2017, when it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

Copies of associated documentation that certifies this object as “Hand Made by a Canadian Indian”, and names Howard Jelly of Moose Factory as the artist, is stored in the objects files. The documentation also describes a 1981 piece of sculpture (apparently) entitled “Man & Bear” by Tivi Ilisatok, apparently now held by the University of Toronto Art Collection.