In 2000 two boys, Mark Turner (11) and Daniel Helm (8), were tubing down rapids in Flatbed Creek just below Tumbler Ridge. They fell off their tube and walked back upstream on bedrock. They noticed a series of depressions in the rock and correctly identified these as a dinosaur trackway. Trying to convince adults of the importance of their discovery, their perseverance paid off as their trail led to Phil Currie, Curator of Dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, and to palaeontologist Rich McCrea, western Canada's authority on dinosaur footprints.
 
In 2001 McCrea came to visit, confirmed the importance of this in situ discovery, and found British Columbia' s second ever dinosaur bone right beside it. At the time this was one of the only places known where footprints and bone had been discovered together in the same rock layer. Press releases made national headlines, and these events served as catalysts for the formation of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation.
 
Tumbler Ridge's assets of surrounding physical beauty, unparalleled setting, and unique history, coupled with the emerging palaeontological discoveries, led to the identification of four main museum themes to be developed:
Dinosaurs and other fossils
Natural History including waterfalls
Coal and the creation of Tumbler Ridge
Human History (archaeology, pioneer and recent history).
 
McCrea taught the passionately enthusiastic locals what to search for, and soon regular dinosaur footprint discoveries were being made. On one expedition down a canyon with a few dozen footprint discoveries, a crucial find was made: BC's first accumulation of dinosaur skeletal material. This was also by far the oldest dinosaur bone material in western Canada, and very few bones from this age of rock are known worldwide. The possibility of this representing new species to science provided further impetus, and a fundraising drive was initiated to make possible the excavation.
 
This progress was matched at the administrative level, registering the TRMF first as a non-profit society and then obtaining charitable status, and the Board of Directors and other volunteers committed thousands of hours to further their dreams. Displays were created in the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre, trails were built to the dinosaur footprint field sites, and guided tours were offered. Loraine Funk was the TRMF first president, followed by Carolyn Golightly in 2003/04 and Rose Colledge in 2004/05.
 
In 2004 funding was obtained through the federal Softwood Industry Community Adjustment Economic Initiative (SICEAI) and allowed for the outfitting of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) in Tumbler Ridge, where collections are rapidly accumulating not only of dinosaur bones and footprints but of fossil corals, plants and many other types that make northeastern BC a palaeontological hotspot.
 
The excavated material is removed to the PRPRC where it will be prepared, researched, described and exhibited. By the end of 2004 170 bones had been removed form the canyon to the PRPRC, and two further dinosaur bone sites had been discovered, yielding anothert 130 bones. At this point 300 of BC's 301 known dinosaur bones were from the Tumbler Ridge area.
 
Palaeontologists Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley have complementary expertise in footprints and bones respectively. They now work out of the PRPRC, which increasingly plays a regional role, assisting communities in the Peace Region with their fossil finds and exhibits, serving as a catalyst for the Northern Dino Tour that will be an international drawcard for the region.
 
With further funding from Western Diversification, the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery will be constructed in 2006 in Tumbler Ridge.
 
An enormous amount media exposure has been generated by this activity, with features by Discovery Channel, Knowledge Network, and Globe and Mail and many others. The first book has been written on the finds. Entitled "Daniel's Dinosaurs", and written for kids aged 6-12, it takes readers through the remarkable series of events that began with Daniel and Mark's initial discovery. It is written by Daniel's father, local physician Charles Helm, who is also the TRMF President. Proceeds from sales support TRMF projects.
 
While paleontology has grabbed the spotlight (and has already significantly diversified the Tumbler Ridge economy) the other TRMF themes are not being neglected. This is reflected in the expanding number of exhibits, in recently published research, and in forthcoming books.
 
All this progress has occurred  at a rate which sometimes seems breathtaking. The twelve members of the volunteer Board of Directors meet monthly, and oversee the TRMF activities, still focussed on the long term goal of building a facility of an international standard in Tumbler Ridge."

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