Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation plans for a regional museum

Since our inception in 2002, our long term goal has been the creation of purpose-built museum facility for the town of Tumbler Ridge. The museum was to house publicly accessible displays showcasing our main themes of archaeology, natural history, pioneer history, town and industry, with palaeontology leading the way.

From the beginning we have proceeded according to a disciplined and cautious step-wise plan towards this goal. Along the way this we have enjoyed successful short term goals: doing the necessary research, raising funds, raising the profile of the community and region, promoting tourism and developing programs. The research that has been done makes it clear that a museum of international standard is a justifiable goal. Our objectives and plans can be divided into five phases:

Phase I Field Projects: The exploration, excavation, documentation and recovery of palaeontological specimens and assessment of large-scale sites. This process began informally in 2000 (before the formation of the TRMF) with the boys? discovery of the first dinosaur tracksite from Flatbed Creek. With the discovery of B.C.?s first dinosaur bones from Quality Creek the newly formed TRMF realized that there was no-one in the province with the capability to handle the material, which would likely have been removed to Alberta. We therefore took responsibility for preserving this significant and unique material and raised substantial funds for the excavation which began in the summer of 2003. The excavation will likely be an ongoing project for several years to come. With each year new exciting palaeontological finds are found or reported in the region, which broadens the scope of the palaeontology program based in Tumbler Ridge. This increases local, regional, provincial, national and international interest.

Phase II Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre: We realized early on that our commitment to preserving the Peace Region?s palaeontological heritage would require a professional quality facility to properly store, prepare and study the burgeoning collection of fossil specimens and associated data if this material was to stay in Tumbler Ridge and B.C. The establishment of such a facility necessitated a professional staff of qualified palaeontologists and technicians who could properly care for and study the fossils in order to provide the foundations for the interpretive material that would eventually be displayed to the public with the highest standards of accuracy. The present location of the PRPRC in a warehouse is intended to be only an interim situation until proper facilities are built to meet the standards necessary for the long-term curation of the province?s valuable fossil resources. In addition, we are now planning a Tumbler Ridge Archives, whose collections will complement those of the PRPRC.

Phase III Educational Programming and Outreach:

Dinosaurs and palaeontology are natural partners of science education; recognizing the opportunity to involve the public in the excitement of the Tumbler Ridge dinosaurs we began to offer the popular and now well known children?s Dino-Camps in the summer of 2003 (in partnership with NLC). The five-day program now has multiple tiers through which registrants can progress over the course of several summers. Dino-Camp and the Dino-Camp curricula were designed by the PRPRC palaeontologists who also train the Dino-Camp coordinators to ensure a high degree of scientific accuracy in the delivery of the camps.

In 2006 we plan to expand into a series of tiered wilderness-oriented camps using the established WNMS hiking trails. In additional, versions of the dinosaur and wilderness camp programs are being designed with unique curricula for the fall and winter to satisfy demand for year-round educational programming. Eventually, we plan to offer adult-oriented palaeontology and wilderness educational programs as well.

Phase IV Galleries, Exhibits and Tours:

In our brief history we have provided the community of Tumbler Ridge and its visitors an ever-increasing variety of displays that grace the corridors, walls and rooms of the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre. At almost every turn residents, tourists, and visiting dignitaries are confronted with the rich palaeontological, natural, archaeological, and pioneer history of Tumbler Ridge and the Peace Region. A professional quality Dinosaur Discovery Gallery exhibit is currently under development and should be open to the public by the spring of 2006. Plans for additional professional quality, publicly accessible exhibits for our other themes are also underway.

The dinosaur tracksite tours were established in 2004 and have become one of the must-see attractions for visitors to Tumbler Ridge. Two tour options are currently available, the first is a hike along a scenic wilderness trail down to see the two Flatbed tracksites (one of which is the trackway that the two boys originally discovered). The other is a lantern tour of the Wolverine River tracksite which is one-of-a-kind on a global scale and has been featured in several news articles and video documentaries. The tour guide has been trained by PRPRC

palaeontologists to ensure that accurate information is passed on to tour participants. Further guided tours will be added in the future.

We are also developing the Monkman Memorial Trail in partnership with WNMS and hope that its road tour section will be near completion by the end of 2006.

Phase V Regional Museum:

The necessary preliminary stages towards the ultimate goal of a large-scale (130,000 ft2) regional museum have been completed or are well under way. We now need to move forward with the feasibility study and business plan, followed by site selection, environmental impact assessment, design, construction and operation of the museum itself. This will be able to support all of the already established programs and exhibits, but also to expand the scope and scale of the current TRMF operations to make a world class museum and tourism destination here in Tumbler Ridge by or before 2010 to coincide with the winter Olympics. All of the museum?s themes will be represented in the public galleries on a grand scale. The content of the galleries will not remain static, but will evolve with time as new discoveries are made and incorporated into the display framework of the museum. This will ensure that the Regional Museum will continue to attract repeat visitors. The museum?s link to an active vertebrate palaeontology research program (and the only such program in British Columbia) will guarantee that it will maintain a high public and scientific profile which will continue to attract visitors.

It is evident that in just over three years since our formation, we have succeeded beyond our and the community?s highest expectations in our short term goals (Phases 1-4), which we continue to maintain and expand. What remains is to achieve our long term goal (Phase 5), with a combination of Federal, Provincial and Municipal support, aided by contributions from the private and industrial sectors.