Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242
August 27, 2004
The palaeontology collections of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
were made richer by the recent addition of an intriguing fossil,
with an interesting history. The story begins in the 1960s
with Maynard Bergh at Wapiti Lake.
Bergh was an air-force flying instructor during the 2nd World
War. After the war he moved from Saskatchewan to Pouce Coupe
and set up base, and became one of the first helicopter pilots
in the Peace Country. He developed a great love of the Wapiti
Lake area, and obtained the recreation lease for the original
cabin. Throughout the 1960's the Wapiti Cabin became the summer
home for his wife and three boys while Maynard was flying his
helicopter in the area. It was Bergh who invited the Catholic
priest, Father Mariman, to the lake, which led to the construction
of the grotto and shrine that are still visited by many who
hike in to the lake via the Wapiti Hiking Trail.
In the 1960s one of Bergh’s clients was a geologist. The
helicopter was set down in the alpine to allow the geologist
to work on a rock outcrop. While looking at a rock Bergh spotted
the unmistakable shape and remains of a fish. He and the geologist
lifted the rock out of the ground and loaded it into the helicopter.
It became a much loved possession of Bergh’s for decades,
and an object for visitors to enjoy. Unfortunately the specimen
was accidentally dropped and it broke into about a dozen pieces.
When Bergh passed on, he left the rock fragments to his good
friend Roy Christie of Fort St John, who has treasured them
since. When Christie, now in his 80s, heard of the activities
Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, and its efforts to celebrate
and exhibit the region’s fossil heritage, he and his
family decided to donate the fossil fish to this worthy cause.
specimen was taken to the Peace Region Palaeontology Research
Centre where it was reassembled and stabilized by palaeontologists
Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley.
The fossil represents the posterior half (65cm long) of a
large fish, which almost certainly comes from the Fossil
area, now within the protected area of Wapiti Lake Provincial
Park. This fish and the many other fossil fish and marine
reptile specimens from this area lived around 240 million
during the Early Triassic Period, much older than the Tumbler
McCrea and Buckley tentatively identified the fossil as
a specimen of Saurichthys sp., a large predatory fish that
up to one metre in length. McCrea welcomed this addition
to the TRMF collections, saying: “This donation marks the beginning
of a representative collection of the Wapiti Lake vertebrate
fauna that will stay in the region to be displayed for the public
and to be made available for study by local and visiting palaeontologists”.
The fossil fish, once a fearsome terror of the Triassic
seas, will soon form part of the Tumbler Ridge Museum
Foundation exhibits, and may evoke some envy from modern-day
enthusiasts. TRMF would like to thank Roy Christie for
fossil to the area in which it was discovered.