Vancouver man donates ‘mind-blowing’ butterfly collection to University of Calgary


CALGARY — A 90-year-old Vancouver man has given a priceless gift to the University of Calgary: his world-class collection of about 3,000 butterflies.

“In my age…one day we must go, and I was scared these butterflies [would] go to garbage,” George Paclawsky said.

For decades, the retired engineer travelled the world for work, netting his spectacular specimens along the way. Some are now endangered or rare.

The butterflies could help advance climate science around the world.

“Can we build a time machine?” asked John Swann, who curates the insect collection at the university. “No. This is the only way we can go back in time and see what used to be in a particular area.”

George Paclawsky donated his collection of 3,000 butterflies to the University of Calgary. Mia Sosiak, Global News

In late October, Swann travelled to Paclawsky’s home in North Vancouver to drive the extensive collection back to Calgary.

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Paclawsky recorded invaluable data on the back of each immaculately preserved bug.

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Undergrad students at the University of Calgary will help make that information available online to the international scientific community, for research purposes.

When Paclawsky decided to move to a seniors’ facility, he needed a new home for his collection.

He turned down private offers to buy the priceless butterflies because he wanted to share them with Canadians, and give back.

The University of British Columbia had no space to house the butterflies, which is why they came to Calgary.

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