Charles Helm

Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark



The ability of the Tumbler Ridge area to keep on delivering new palaeontological discoveries each year is remarkable. The Golden Summer of 2014 reinforces this perception when presented in list form:


  • the discovery of a new dinosaur tracksite deep into the mountains (probably the oldest dinosaur prints in the region)
  • the flying in of fossil bird trackways from Roman Mountain into the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre
  • the publication in the scientific literature of the only known tyrannosaurid tracks in the world, to international acclaim
  • the repatriation of a prehistoric bison skull to Tumbler Ridge – it is awaiting a First Nations blessing ceremony before being exhibited
  • the discovery of a new type of marine reptile – it awaits study and description by palaeontologists at the University of Calgary
  • fossil crustacean discoveries made while prospecting for fossil fishes – in this case the studies will be done in collaboration with scientists from the University of Alberta
  • the making replicas of dinosaur trackways on vertical rock surfaces in Dinosaur Gorge discovered in 2013 – more publications and new exhibits can be expected
  • the flying in of fossil bird trackways from Roman Mountain into the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centrea tip by First Nations that led to the identification of enormous fossil clams, creating another exciting project for 2015
  • yet another trackway discovery in another previously unexplored creek, this time yielding what are probably large fossil bird tracks – replica made, research in progress, new scientific paper expected, followed exhibition
  • an unexpectedly spectacular rock area featuring paleo-potholes and fossil river channels that sculpt the bedrock into beautiful, bizarre shapes.


Throw in the hard work of the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society volunteers in developing the TR Trail, board-walking the meadows to Babcock Falls, and installing signage and otherwise enhancing the trail system that leads to forty geosites in the area. Add in the discovery of a number of new caves and a spectacular new waterfall.


In September I had the privilege of giving a power point presentation on what was still then the Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark at the UNESCO conference in Stonehammer to 500 delegates from 30 countries. I showed them pictures of these discoveries. When I pointed out that all this had happened in the three months after the Global Geoparks Network had sent their evaluation mission to Tumbler Ridge in June, there was a gasp of disbelief. I don’t think there is anywhere else on the planet where there is such a rate of discovery, yielding documentation, scientific publication, and interpretation and exhibition in such a short space of time.


And topping off this Golden Summer, of course, was the admission of the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark into the Global Geoparks Network.


Where does this spate of discoveries leave us? Firstly, with an incredibly exciting 2015 to look forward to, as these findings are analysed, and these sites are revisited and explored in further detail, probably creating a ripple effect of further discovery. Secondly, with an almost overwhelming feeling of fortune and privilege to be in a place that delivers such riches. Thirdly, with a responsibility to try to do justice to these treasures, to ensure that they become known to and cherished by all British Columbians, and all who choose to visit our Global Geopark. And fourthly, to continue seeking the sustainable funding that will enable all of this.


In a time of great economic hardship for Tumbler Ridge, we need to count our blessings and use them wisely. The Golden Years of exploration and discovery in Tumbler Ridge do not exist in some remote past era. They are with us today, and they make us unique. Our rocks are truly the gift that keeps giving.