Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation update

It?s been another busy month for the Museum Foundation, at the height of the 2005 field season.

Within a few weeks highway signs with ?M?. ?Museum? and an arrow will be in place on entering Tumbler Ridge from the direction of Dawson Creek or Chetwynd.

Community Futures has announced $75 000 of federal Western Diversification funding for our BC Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, which we need to have in place by spring 2006. This is one of the most exciting pieces of news for us in a while, and we have already raised $10 500 of the $18 750 of matching funds that we need to contribute to this project. There will be a lot of opportunity for volunteer help over the winter, as the dinosaur models and other exhibits get assembled under Rich McCrea?s guidance.

Our Dino Trackway tours wound up at the end of August. It was a year of record numbers and interest in these tours has grown hugely as word gets around. Lindsey Vandale at the Visitor Info Booth is ensuring that info on these tours gets into all the important tourism publications for the 2006 season. Jennifer Becker did an amazing job guiding these tours for the second year, and we hope she will be back next year.

Dino Camp was a great success again this year, with our partner the Northern Lights College for the third year. Almost 100 campers enjoyed one of the three levels of this unique experience. Thanks to our enterprising camp leaders Janet Proos and Melanie Dame who returned for their second year.

Jack McNeill has been hard at work with the local history portfolio, and has arranged for an evening of interviews with seniors and elders on Sept 7 in the Community Centre, to record their memories of the region in perpetuity. We hosted the Beaverlodge Senior Citizens Group for an enjoyable afternoon with a slideshow and tour of our exhibits.

We were honoured that BC Parks invited our palaeontologists Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley to perform a scientific assessment of the dinosaur mega-trackway site in Kakwa Provincial Park. They were flown in and spent five days at the site, with a few days of good weather, and we look forward to their report.

Two important dinosaur trackway slabs, weighing 1800 and 900 pounds, have been flown out of canyon bottoms and are now in the PRPRC. Pilot Jim Feaver did an amazing job, and this was made possible through donations from Talisman Energy and Heli Lift International. In both cases work parties of TRMF members did the crucial work on the ground which enabled the successful lifts. The field collecting season has allowed some interesting new finds, and we have a number of smaller items in the 300 pound range that we hope to have flown out before winter.

New discoveries have been made at an impressive rate and our Collections Area is rapidly filling its space.

In late August the Canadian Palaeontology Conference was held in Prince George, along with the BC Paleontology Symposium. We were well represented there and Rich McCrea gave an impressive summary of the Tumbler Ridge finds and innovations. Afterwards just under twenty of the delegates came to Tumbler Ridge for a two-day field trip and visited some of our sites and exhibits.

The Peace Region Paleontology Society (PRPS) has now been formally constituted and will promote the science of palaeontology in the region, and contribute at a provincial level through the BC Paleontology Alliance. The PRPS received a warm welcome at the symposium in Prince George and forms the seventh regional society in the provincial body.

We are working closely also with Lisa Hildebrandt of Fort St John, who is developing the Northern Dino Tour concept under the auspices of NRAHTA. The tour will link communities in northeastern BC and hopefully northwestern Alberta and become an important regional attraction. Joan Zimmer did some striking dino artwork on the Northern Dino Tour truck.

The BC government has appointed a Fossil Management Framework to investigate and report on how to protect and manage the province?s fossil sites and heritage. We have been assisting closely with this process, and appreciate the support of the District of Tumbler Ridge, which is actively pursuing protection of our dinosaur sites with various levels of government.

Donna Legault has reluctantly resigned as director – she did a huge amount of work for us over the past year and will be greatly missed. We welcome Dave Price onto the Board of Directors – Dave has a wealth of skills and experience and will no doubt prove to be an asset. Director Beth Graham is working hard on updating our Policies and Procedures manual.

Our August Board Meeting was preceded by an Extraordinary General Meeting to review our Audited Financial Statements.

Denise McWhirter and Kathy Hood have completed their time as JCP workers – both have been of enormous value to us with archiving, and have learned valuable skills in the process in accordance with the requirements of the JCP program. Thanks to both for all the hard work. Rose Colledge plans to submit a new proposal for more JCP positions in the near future.

Our summer lecture series held in partnership with the library brought in palaeontologist David Spalding in August, with an inspiring and entertaining talk on the history of palaeontology in Canada.

Mark Tuesday 27 September in the calendar – we?ll be teaming up with the Library and the Circle of Friendship at 7 pm, when Michael Blackstock will speak about western Canadian tree art and the Tumbler Ridge carving in particular (the one on display in the Community Centre). He has already visited the carving once and was mightily impressed by it. It may be possible to date how old it is. Michael is the author of ?Faces in the Forest? and the acknowledged tree art expert of western Canada.

Our palaeontologist Lisa Buckley is temporarily leaving us for Edmonton for a few months to work on completing her masters degree – she will be in expert hands as she will be supervised by none other than our good friend Phil Currie at U of A. Lisa will continue to have input into the Discvery Gallery design even while she is away.

We continue to liaise regularly with our Mayor and Council on how our activities can benefit the community and region, and appreciate this dialogue.

In addition to the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, proposed winter projects include working on an archaeology exhibit documenting First Nations history in the area, an exhibit featuring natural gas in our region, and a focus on the creation of Tumbler Ridge (which will coincide with the community?s 25th anniversary).

Regarding this last item, if there are any of our members or friends who have a specific knowledge of, or interest in, the early days of Tumbler Ridge, now is the time to volunteer your time and effort… please consider helping us out with this important project.

That?s just a snippet of some of the more interesting activities of the past month. Our membership committee (led by Christine Goodwin) and souvenir committee (Amanda Battenfelder, Hazel Peters, Charissa Tonnesen, Stan Porter) are hard at work and can as always do with a bit of extra help, so please contact us if you are able to assist in any way

Thanks to all who have contributed so much to allow all these exciting things to happen, and enjoy the rest of the field season! As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.

Best wishes

Charles Helm, President