Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242
June 27, 2007
MLA Blair Lekstrom and MP Jay Hill enjoy a quiet moment before the speeches at the opening of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge.
Photo credit: Daniel Helm
The sonorous mating call of a Hadrosaur signaled the moment of official opening of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge on June 27th. It originated from a complex musical instrument, played by palaeontology student Tyler Shaw, who is one of the Dinosaur Camp instructors for the summer of 2007. This moment was the culmination of years of work by the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF), and its staff and volunteers.
The first dinosaur footprints were discovered near Tumbler Ridge by two local boys in 2000, and the first significant collection of dinosaur bones (the oldest in western Canada) was found in 2002. This prompted the formation of the Museum Foundation. The Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) was created, staffed by the only vertebrate palaeontologists in B.C., and the fossil resource was protected, documented, collected, prepared and researched. The creation of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, alongside the Research Centre, now creates a public-accessible facility in which these finds are interpreted and displayed, and is the product of five years of disciplined work.
Special messages of support were read out by TRMF President Dr Charles Helm. One was from the Foundation’s Honorary Patron, the Honourable Iona Campagnolo, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The second was from Dr Jim Haggart, Chairperson of the British Columbia Paleontological Alliance. Mayor Mike Caisley led the proceedings, praised the work of the TRMF, and introduced the MLA for Peace River South, Blair Lekstrom, and the MP for Prince George – Peace River, Jay Hill, both of whom made strong speeches of support and congratulations to the community and TRMF.
Next to speak was Sue Kenny of Community Futures Development Canada, who oversaw the funding contracts with Western Economic Diversification that contributed significantly to the construction of the facility. Rich McCrea, Curator of Palaeontology at the PRPRC, explained that less than 2% of the Centre’s collections were on display, and that exhibits would be regularly changed. Some parts of the Gallery are still being developed; until exhibits are complete, there will be no admission fee (donations will be gratefully accepted).
The TRMF has raised over $1M since its inception, with funding from all levels of government, and generous contributions form industry and private sources. Talisman Energy contributed $10 000 towards the Gallery’s first interactive display and screen, and Ledcor donated $7 000 towards the murals that grace the exterior walls.
The Gallery exhibits a lot more than just dinosaurs and their footprints. Some exhibits feature the region’s astounding fish and marine reptile fossils, as well as plant and invertebrate fossils. An intriguing touch is the volunteer-built ankylosaur weather-vane on the roof. A gift shop area allows for the sale of dinosaur footprint replicas, dinosaur books and other memorabilia.
The Dinosaur Discovery Gallery is the only facility of its kind in B.C., and provides not only significant tourism potential for the region, but unlimited education opportunities, and ties in with the TRMF’s other programs such as Dinosaur Footprint Tours, Dinosaur Camp and Northern Wilderness Camp. While its creation is a significant milestone for the TRMF, Tumbler Ridge and the region, it is but another step towards the ultimate goal of a much larger, world class museum facility in Tumbler Ridge.