Courtenay and District Museum Connects at Tumbler Ridge Symposium

The Courtenay and District Museum was recently represented at the Ninth British Columbia Paleontological Association Symposium, held from May 20 to May 23, 2011 in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, and featuring guests from all over North America.

Pat Trask, Curator of Science at the museum, joined a myriad of other guest speakers taking part in two days of discussion about paleontology in British Columbia, Western Canada, and even stretching as far as China.

Many of the speakers discussed the changing nature of paleontological research, intertwined with various discoveries and excavations taking place in the field. Trask talked about the massive boom in amateur paleontology on Vancouver Island since the discovery of the elasmosaur in 1988, as well as a wealth of other late-Cretaceous fossil discoveries.

Tumbler Ridge provided the perfect backdrop for the symposium as it has been, until recently, a relatively untapped hotspot for paleontological discovery. The town owes part of its rebirth to paleontology, as it was on the verge of disappearance after the coal market dropped and many of the workers were forced to move away.

It wasn't until 2000 that two young boys discovered a dinosaur trackway along the bank of a creek that interest was renewed in Tumbler Ridge and paleontology became its main attraction.

Courtenay and District Museum Executive Director, Deb Griffiths, was invited to Tumbler Ridge in 2003 to make a presentation to Tourism Dawson Creek about the impact of fossil finds and to visit the Tumbler Ridge sites.

Vancouver Island was well represented at the symposium by Pat Trask, Dan Bowen, President,Vancouver Island Paleontological Society (VIPS), VIPS member, Stewart McIntosh, Mike Trask, the discoverer of the elasmosaur, and Graham Beard of the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society.