Vote Elasmosaur Video!

Our friends at Fox&Bee Studio have teamed up with us to get the word out about our elasmosaur being in the running for British Columbia’s official fossil. They’ve done an amazing job capturing our cuddly version of the elasmosaur in locations throughout the Comox Valley. Do you recognize them all?

Here’s the link to vote:

Voting closes on November 23rd, so don’t miss your chance!

Science and Art Converge at 2018 BC Paleontological Alliance Symposium

Science and art will converge in Courtenay from August 17-20 as Key Note Speaker, Dr. Richard Hebda and Special Guest Speaker, Artist, Ray Troll, lead off the 2018 BC Paleontological Alliance Symposium in Courtenay.

Supported by the Vancouver Island Paleontological Society and the Courtenay and District Museum, the symposium will feature fifteen formal presentations, field trips and a fossil prep workshop. Historically, the BCPA symposiums feature an art exhibit of varied media and paleo-imagination and this tradition will continue. In tandem with the symposium, the museum will be hosting an exhibit of in-house and private fossil collections from May to December.

Symposium registration fees are $150 + GST for professional paleontologists and non-BCPA members; $120 + GST for BCPA members and $100 for students. This includes all activities except field trips and workshops.

Here’s more information on the symposium outline and guest speakers.

To download the registration form go here.

Fossil Tours


Can you dig it?

With summer here it’s a great time to go on one of Courtenay Museum’s fossil tours! The tours are a fantastic way to learn about fossils and even to get the chance to dig up one yourself.

Each tour includes a brief lecture about the numerous exhibits in the museum before heading off to one of the fossil sites. Hammers, chisels and other gear are supplied by the museum.

Click Here for More Info

Kids Summer Camp Program

To add to downtown Courtenay’s 2015 summertime fun, the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre is presenting two childrens’ summer camp programs in alternating weeks throughout July and August. These camps will provide fun and interactive opportunities for kids ages 5-9 to learn about dinosaurs, reptiles, and fossils through activities and crafts that encourage thinking, moving, and creatively exploring the museum’s palaeontology exhibits and collections.

In the first program, Sea, Sky and Land—Life in the Dinosaur Age, camp-goers will learn about the various reptiles and dinosaurs that existed in the dinosaur age, and about the habitats they adapted to. Each day will feature a different habitat; land, ocean, and sky, and explore how reptiles survived in these surroundings and competed with other animals alive at the time. Participants will also be able to see and learn about locally-found fossils from 80 million year old ocean environments.
For ages 5-9, running July 7-10, July 21-24, August 4-7 and August 18-21.

Where’d you go Dinosaur? is the second program and focuses on showing students how dinosaurs came to be millions of years ago. From the dawn of the dinosaurs, through their evolution and eventual extinction 65 million years ago, to discovering why fossils exist now, and what they reveal about these ancient creatures, day-campers experience miniature fossil digs, create volcanoes and make crafts to take home.
For ages 5-9, running July 14-17, July 28-31, August 11-14, and August 25-27.

Both camps $60, Tuesday to Thursday from 9:30 am to 12 pm. Fridays are optional. For an additional $20 a child and one guardian have the opportunity to go on a Fossil tour from 9am to 12pm. They will need their own transportation.

Note: Museum members receive a 15% discount on the programs.

For all of the details please visit our Summer Kids Program page or contact us at 250-334-0686 ext 5

Fun Fossil Discoveries for Spring Break


Fossil Mould & Cast

In these sessions we’ll look at fossils and talk about what they teach us about the past. These interactive classes will include a hands-on look at fossils, a tour through the exhibits and making moulds and casts of fossils to take home.

Times: 10 am to 12 pm

Days available: Tuesday March 31, Wednesday April 1, Thursday April 2, Tuesday April 7, Wednesday April 8, Thursday April 9, Friday April 10

Cost: $8.00 per youth (ages 6-10)

Parents encouraged to participate. Reservations appreciated.

Fossil Tours

Fossil Tours will be offered in the afternoons on the above dates 1 to 4 pm. Click here for more info about our tours.

Reservations required. 15% discount if “Fossil Mould & Cast” class taken in the morning. Please contact Visitor Services Manager Gillian Miller at 250-334-0686 ext. 5.

New Reptile in Town

Valley’s most famous dinosaur welcomes a juvenile elasmosaur just in time for birthday

The team of workers hang the fleshed-out juvenile elasmosaur at the museum.

Almost a quarter-century has passed since Mike Trask and his daughter Heather discovered the fossilized remains of an 80-million-year-old elasmosaur on the banks of the Puntledge River near Courtenay.

But at last he has come face-to-face with what the fearsome creature would have looked like when it was alive.
Trask was at Courtenay and District Museum to witness the arrival of its latest exhibit – a scientifically-accurate fleshed out version of the species from the Age of the Dinosaurs—a juvenile elasmosaur.

For years, a star exhibit at the museum has been a cast of the skeleton of a 40ft-long adult elasmosaur, suspended over displays highlighting the fascinating fossil and natural history of the Comox Valley. The original fossilized bones found by Trask and his daughter are also on exhibit.

Now as part of a major upgrading of the museum’s displays, the recreated cast and real bones have been joined by a young elasmosaur. It was created especially for the museum by Palcoprep Inc – a company based in Drumheller, Alberta, with an international reputation for accurately casting, moulding and reconstructing creatures ancient and modern.

Company President, Frank Hadfield, was on hand to see the juvenile elasmosaur hung in place at the museum – with its open mouth full of sharp teeth lunging down towards visitors as they step into exhibition areas.

The model was created by Palcoprep, Artist Jim Wood, and the museum’s Executive Director, Deborah Griffiths, is thrilled with the result.
“I’m sure the kids will love it,” she said, “On Nov. 17th we’ll be displaying this new addition to the exhibits at the elasmosaur’s annual birthday party. It gives us some idea of what a juvenile elasmosaur could have looked like”.

Mike Trask was equally impressed. “It’s hard to put into words after all these years, but until now, people have had to imagine what an elasmosaur would have looked like in the flesh. It’s great to see this young version of what we found added to the exhibits here – it really helps bring the story to life”.
It was in 1988 that Trask and his then 12-year-old daughter were prospecting for fossils along the banks of the Puntledge when the elasmosaur remains were found.
After months of investigation involving scientists at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, and the Royal BC Museum, the discovery proved to be the first elasmosaur recorded in British Columbia—the first of its kind west of the Canadian Rockies.

Within months of the marine reptile’s discovery, the Courtenay Museum, working with the province, secured the elasmosaur location as a legislated provincial heritage site; set about to excavate the rest of the creature using staff and many volunteers. The excavation was led by Dr. Rolf Ludvigsen and the late Dr. Betsy Nicholls of the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Since then, there have been many other fossil discoveries in and around the Comox Valley, and the museum’s collection of prehistoric remains now numbers around 6,000 items.

The new exhibit is part of an upgrade to the museum’s exhibits, sponsored by Community Futures Strathcona and the Rural Economic Development Initiative of B.C. and the museum; all of which see the project as boosting local tourism, business and jobs; as well as opening up a treasure trove of exhibits to a much wider audience.

From 11am to 4pm on Saturday, November 17, the museum is inviting the community to drop by and join in the Elasmosaur birthday celebrations.

Special Visitors: Authors of Cruisin’ Along the Fossil Freeway

Left to Right: Kirk Johnson, Chief Curator and Vice President for Research Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Ray Troll, renowned artist.

Courtenay and District Museum blog Discoveries Happen is where you’ll find ongoing information about museum events, visitors, tours and programmes—welcome! We’re starting off the blog with a pleasant surprise visit this morning from Kirk Johnson, Chief Curator and Vice President for Research Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and renowned Artist, Ray Troll. Troll and Johnson are co-authors of Cruisin Along the Fossil Freeway a book and CD about “fossils, fossil finders and their stories”.

They are traveling the west coast gathering more information for their next volume. Many thanks to Peter Ward, Professor, University of Washington, for bringing this group and congratulations to Kirk Johnson, who will move into the position of Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in October. When asked to give an overview of what he saw in the museum’s collections and displays, Kirk said:

“ The Courtenay and District Museum is a fabulous example of a regional museum that is making truly significant contributions to science. This is ground zero for new discoveries in Vancouver Island palaeontology”