It is less than seven years since the first Flatbed Creek dinosaur footprints were discovered, less than five years since the Quality Creek bones were found, that led directly to our formation. Month by month it often seems like the rate of progress is slow. By contrast, an annual reassessment allows us to sit back for a moment and measure our achievements, strengths and weaknesses. Having been present at the time of those discoveries, I can once again share with you today a fulfillment, that as we are coming of age our passion and convictions are as strong as ever..
I would like to review with you a brief synopsis of what we have achieved in the last year, where we stand with respect to our goals, and where we are headed.
Dinosaur Discovery Gallery: The years of patience and discipline have paid off. Yesterday the Dinosaur Discovery gallery was officially opened. This year round publicly accessible display area takes us the crucial next step in public perception, as well as having a vital educational role for kids and adults, and boosting the local and regional tourist economy.
Exhibits: The Tumbler Ridge Sports Hall of Fame was officially opened in the downstairs section of the Community Centre in February. The nomination committee (Mayor, Director of Community Centre, and TRMF President) reviews nominations quarterly, and three new members were inducted yesterday. The ornithological exhibit was also opened yesterday, and just last weekend Alex Monkman?s granddaughter opened the ?Who was Alex Monkman?? exhibit. Earlier in the year the Leake photographoic portfolio of Monkman pictures was opened. To complete the Community Centre exhibits, we are working on a Euphemia McNaught display, and future displays on archaeology, First Nations history, and the creation of Tumbler Ridge.
Archives: With a grant from 2010 Legacies Now, the Tumbler Ridge Archives was developed in 2006 in our community?s 25th year, and has a new home in the library. While some work remains to be done on this project, this is something that will be a legacy for all who appreciate Tumbler Ridge.
Programs: This year we present Dinosaur Camp for the fifth year, and for the fourth consecutive year we are offering Dinosaur Footprint Tours. Northern Wilderness Camps were piloted in 2006 and continue in 2007. Our volunteers guide visitors and special groups through our Community Centre exhibits. These programs are unique to BC and are a crucial part of our activities.
Employees: This summer we have seven employees, who will be delivering our programs, developing our exhibits, researching and archiving. We have been fortunate to hire excellent summer students, and our permanent employees (Rich McCrea, Lisa Buckley, Tammy Pigeon) have been delivering work of their usual impeccable standard. This year we will also be making use of the services of local youth on a casual basis.
Communication: We have delivered numerous presentations regionally, and internationally. Our website is frequently updated. Included on it now is our Code of Ethics, probably the leading example of its kind in the province. Media coverage has once again been extensive. In partnership with the library we have delivered high quality lectures and presentations within the past year. Our Meet the Museum Day in winter was attended by almost 200 people. We regularly review industrial exploration and development plans and are asked to comment. There has been increasing co-operation with school groups, who recognize the educational potential of our products.
Research and fieldwork: Our palaeontologists and staff are doing annual fieldwork in the summer, assisted by our volunteers, and laboratory work through the year. Research continued at the Kakwa site, and new dinosaur footprint sites were discovered closer to Tumbler Ridge (one of these will become accessible to public via guided tours once the research has been completed). Expeditions into the mountains yielded a lot of new fish and marine reptile fossils, and thanks to industry support, almost all of this could be airlifted by helicopter and transported to the PRPRC. Fossil protection remains a problematic issue in BC, and we and our scientists continue to provide input and do our best to protect the resource. Staff from the Royal Tyrrell Museum spent time with us in the field last year, and they have borrowed some of our very important specimens for research purposes. Another visit is planned for this summer.
Monkman Pass Memorial Trail: We have assisted WNMS in this project, helped produce the driving tour brochure (5000 copies printed), are developing field exhibits, and have escorted visitors through our Monkman exhibits. This product is set to become another international attraction for the region in the future, aided by the paving of the Boundary Road. The Driving Tour now has 48 points of interest between Grande Prairie and Kinuseo Falls via the old Monkman route and Tumbler Ridge. If all goes according to plan, work on the Hiking Trail may even be completed this summer. This will create a five day long hike over the mountains, starting at Kinuseo Falls, following the 1930s Monkman Pass route.
Publications: Diligent research leads to publication in respected journals, and our palaeontologists have contributed a number of articles to the scientific literature over the past year. This is what crucially enhances our credibility as an institution.
Fundraising: We have done remarkably well over the years with fundraising, and the past year was again successful. The District of Tumbler Ridge supported our budget proposal and has once again allocated $200 000 to us for the coming year. The Gaming Branch has just released over $37 000 for our program development. Support has been increasing over the past three years from oil and gas companies (led this year by a $10000 donation from Talisman Energy and a massive contribution of helicopter time from Veritas DGC), with contributions from the forestry and mining sectors, and private sources.
Feasibility Study: Our first feasibility study was produced by Lions Gate Consulting in the fall of 2006, funded mostly by the Ministry of Economic Development. This has been widely distributed, and is what enables other major fundraising initiatives to be pursued, such as applications to the Northern Development Initiative Trust. A further study was commissioned by the District of Tumbler Ridge, and done by Aldrich Pears. This provides further specific recommendations for the advancement of the museum project, including a master plan that can include site selection, architectural design etc.
Partnerships: Our relationship with the Tumbler Ridge Public Library is an outstanding example of what a partnership can be, and I would like to thank Michele and the library staff not only for providing us with this venue today, but also for all their support throughout the year. I know this partnership will continue to grow and to thrive. Likewise, we have strong friendships with our MP and MLA, with BC Parks and Ministry of Forests, with industry, with NRAHTA and the Northern Dino Tour, the BC Paleontological Alliance, the BC Museums Association, the Royal BC Museum, Royal Tyrrell Museum, other museums and universities, and scientists and historians from across Canada. None of this should be taken for granted, and these invaluable contacts need to be nurtured and cherished.
Our partnership with the District of Tumbler Ridge is of particular importance, as at this stage of development municipal support is extremely important, along with the need to make joint representations, comments and funding proposals. To this end we are poised to create a Joint Committee which will further the development of the museum concept. One of the first tasks of this committee will be to motivate to NDI Trust for funds for a Project Manager / Director position, which will help relieve our hard-working directors, executive and scientists of some of the administrative burden of so vast a project.
Directors: Our Board of Directors meets monthly for about two hours, with occasional executive and special meetings. Never once have we lacked a quorum. We have had another year of stability and unity on the Board. It has been a great privilege to preside over such a unified and determined group. On behalf of all our members, I wish to thank them: Dave Price (V-P), Patsy Antle (Treasurer), Gail Neumann (Secretary), Amanda Battenfelder, Mark Deeley, Christine Goodwin, Wade Harvey, Gloria Price, Jerrilyn Schembri, Charmaine Shirley, and Charissa Tonnesen. In my role as President over the past two years, I am well aware that we are building upon the hard work of our past presidents: Loraine Funk, Carolyn Golightly and Rose Colledge, and their respective boards.
Membership: One measure of our strength lies in our steadily increasing membership levels. Memberships are due following this AGM and I would like to encourage all members to renew. The Board of Directors has felt strongly that membership should confer benefits, and for this reason existing memberships have remained valid until now. The opening of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery allows us to develop an acceptable membership package. Thanks you to all our members for their support during the past year.
Conclusion: Our achievements speak for themselves and have been widely acclaimed. In the early days our future sometimes hung in the balance, and the fact that we are still here as a volunteer-driven group and growing is in itself an achievement against the odds. We need to accept that we are taking an unorthodox route as a relatively small group in a small, remote community, without extensive political connections, by taking a grassroots-up approach and aiming for an institution of international standard. Our challenges in the next year include securing further support from all three levels of government, developing or partnership with District of Tumbler Ridge, commissioning necessary studies, relieving some of the administrative burden off the backs of volunteers, seeking closer ties with tertiary educational institutions, while continuing our diligent, disciplined work on numerous fronts both palaeontological and historical.
With the opening of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, and with our Community Centre exhibits nearing completion, we are reaching the end of the first phase of our development. Our capacity to diversify the regional economy is increasingly accepted. Given that in addition we promote research, have a capacity to educate and evoke a sense of wonder, champion the value of heritage, and promote healthy lifestyles, it becomes a question of articulating this argument at every opportunity. We must continue to work at converting this potential, in which we all believe so passionately, into something concrete. The onus should no longer on us to show why a museum of national and international significance should be built here. Rather, the onus should be on the various levels of government to show why the Peace Region is different from the rest of the world and does NOT deserve such a facility.
It has been a privilege to serve again as president for the past year. Together we have made huge strides. Thanks to every one of you for your support and encouragement.
Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation