Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242
July 3, 2005
Denise McWhirter has been one of the Tumbler
Ridge Museum Foundation’s JCP (Job Creation Program)
workers this year. Her position is “Archive Assistant”,
in which she learns new skills under the supervision of palaeontologists
Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley at the Peace Region Palaeontology
Research Centre (P.R.P.R.C.).
As the Archive Assistant Denise works with the records of
the P.R.P.R.C.'s dinosaur collections, an important position
comes with a great deal of responsibility. Each fossil specimen
is assigned a unique specimen number which is linked to a
paper record containing a great deal of information about the
This includes the precise location on where the fossil was
collected, what geological formation the fossil was discovered
in, the date of discovery and collection, the identification
of the specimen, and a variety of notes and even maps to
round out the information on the particulars of the fossil.
Once all of this data has been recorded in a paper file
and a computerized collections records program it will
easy to retrieve information on any specimen or group of
specimens as well as display the specimen's exact location
in the collections
area, down to which drawer in the specimen cabinet in which
While most of her work involves writing up specimen data
sheets and marking fossils with specimen numbers, she has
to learn a lot about palaeontology and palaeontologists.
Her archiving skills are improved by a thorough understanding
the fossil material and the sites it comes from, so she
has learned preparation work, casting, fieldwork and prospecting.
On one memorable day she actually discovered her first
dinosaur bone, and saw it go through the entire process
to storage in the P.R.P.R.C.'s collections area. She assigned
it the necessary accession number and wrote up the specimen
data sheet including all pertinent locality and recovery
information, and finally laid the specimen safely to rest
in a drawer of
a specimen cabinet.
Although the aim of the Job Creation Program is to give
people new skills and enable them to find new employment,
contribution to the T.R.M.F. has been immense through her
assistance and development of the fossil specimen data
Denise summarises: “To be given this opportunity to take
on a challenge that I would otherwise never have had the chance
to do has been extremely rewarding. This has been the training
of a lifetime!