Linda Schuler loves dolls. It started as a childhood passion, and eventually turned into a 15-year business venture.
In 2006, Schuler and her husband were driving down a Saskatchewan highway and saw a sign for a doll museum. They decided to check it out.
“I was totally in awe of the whole thing. It was just fantastic to view that museum, and (we) just totally fell in love with it right off the bat,” she said.
After returning to Drumheller, Schuler said she couldn’t stop thinking about the museum.
“Finally my husband said, ‘Why don’t you ask those ladies if they’d be interested in selling it?'”
Schuler said she got up the courage to ask, and to her surprise they were ready to part with their business.They packed up the doll museum on Mother’s Day and drove it back to Drumheller.
Valley Doll Museum opened on June 6, 2007.
Over the years, Schuler added more dolls to the museum – which she ran while also helping her husband with his locksmith business.
“The Ralph Klein dolls [of the world] that he had in city hall in Calgary when he was mayor, I acquired those as well, those were donated to me,” she said. “The Glenbow Museum in Calgary and Heritage Park, they didn’t want them, so they found a home in my museum.”
Fifteen years later, Schuler is retiring from the doll business, and is auctioning off her inventory with the help of an Edmonton auction company.
“I love my dolls but I just got to the point in life where I have health problems and can’t do both jobs at the same time,” she said. “One of them had to go and the doll museum is really a lot of work for one person so that’s the one that unfortunately had to go.”
‘JAMMED TO THE RAFTERS’
The museum’s inventory was moved from Drumheller to Beck Auctions’ east Edmonton location in preparation for Wednesday’s auction.
“We’ve sold many collections, but this is the most extensive collection, probably. It’s literally jammed to the rafters in here with dolls,” said Beck Auctions President Clinton Beck.
Beck estimates there are more than 1,000 dolls to auction off, as well as furniture, clothing and other museum items.
“We have dolls that are cultural dolls, we have dolls from different countries, we have Victorian dolls, we have antique dolls from the 1920s,” said Beck.
Many collectors will be looking to fill the missing pieces of their collections, Beck predicted.
“We’ve had calls from the United States, from Europe, from all over Canada, there’s tremendous interest in this auction tonight.”
The entire collection is available to view and bid on online.
The first lot of items in the doll auction will close at 6 p.m. Wednesday, with the auction ending at midnight.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Joe Scarpelli