In an eventful and well attended evening on February 8th, the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) accomplished three goals: a new exhibit enhancement was opened, the TRMF explained its achievements, vision and goals, and it made its annual presentation on the previous year?s fieldwork.
A 37 inch LCD screen, donated by the Lake View Credit Union, has been connected to the Sci Tech North interactive exhibit, which has also been upgraded. Lori Ackermann of Sci Tech North and Scott Trim of Lake View Credit Union each said a few words, then it was over to Rodger Legault, the TRMF?s hi-tech expert, to explain the technology and introduce Mayor Mike Caisley, who with a touch of finger opened the exhibit in the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre by activating the Mayor?s Welcome Message. Mayor Caisley also introduced Mayor Evan Saugstad from Chetwynd, who presented a $5000 cheque to the TRMF from Duke Energy.
The crowd of 144 then moved into the Library where Dr Charles Helm, TRMF President, spelled out the achievements of the foundation, returning repeatedly to the themes of scientific, heritage and economic importance. The TRMF has raised a total of $602 000, employs BC?s only vertebrate palaeontologists, has established the province?s only dinosaur preparation lab and collections area, and is well into BC?s first dinosaur excavation. The resulting research is leading to numerous scientific publications, and the programs of dino camps, dino tours and exhibits are all well established and expanding. The resulting national and international media exposure has been huge and has promoted tourism for the region.
Tumbler Ridge has thus become the leading centre in BC for vertebrate palaeontology, and in Canada for fossil footprints. Prior to this, internationally significant regional fossil specimens were often removed from the province. Thanks to the work of the TRMF, for the first time many of these priceless resources have been saved for study and display in the Peace Region.
Dr Helm explained that the same discipline, passion and diligence which have enabled all this to be accomplished in under four years will lead the TRMF forward towards its goal of an internationally renowned regional museum and research facility in the $50 million range, which will be a Centre of Excellence, and will celebrate all the TRMF themes,. The TRMF is moving ahead, securing funding for the necessary business plan, feasibility study and site selection, which form the next step in the process.
Dr Helm concluded by saying that the TRMF has proven the value of the resource and what can be done with it. Elsewhere in the world discoveries of this magnitude and importance lead to great museums, and there is no reason why the Peace Region should be any different, especially in light of what it provides to the rest of BC in the way of resources.
Palaeontologist Rich McCrea then presented a 90 minute talk on the busy 2005 season. Three impressive dinosaur trackways were flown in by helicopter, one of which also contained ancient bird tracks. A number of new dinosaur bone sites were identified, and intriguing new fossil plant discoveries were made. One of the highlights was the first professional visit to the mega-trackway site in Kakwa Provincial Park under the aegis of B.C. Parks, and McCrea presented magnificent images of this remarkable site.
Looking towards 2006, the immediate priority is the construction of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge. McCrea and his colleague Lisa Buckley also anticipate a third year of work at the dinosaur excavation site, prospecting throughout the region for new sites, and spending more time at the Kakwa site. It is shaping up to be another busy year for the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation.