May 2007 Newsletter
Press Release
For Immediate Release

Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242 3984

May, 2007

To our TRMF Members, friends, and supporters

This is the fourth and final newsletter during the term of office of our 2006-07 Board of Directors, which has continued to meet monthly. Meetings are usually about two hours in duration, and a huge variety of topics and projects gets covered. It has been a great privilege to preside over such a unified, determined and passionate group. On behalf of all our members, I wish to thank this bunch: Dave Price (V-P), Patsy Antle (Treasurer), Gail Neumann (Secretary), Amanda Battenfelder, Mark Deeley, Christine Goodwin, Wade Harvey, Gloria Price, Jerrilyn Schembri, Charmaine Shirley, and Charissa Tonnesen. In my role as President over the past two years, I am well aware that we are building upon the hard work of our past presidents: Loraine Funk, Carolyn Golightly and Rose Colledge, and their respective Boards.

Our Dinosaur Discovery Gallery is unofficially open, pending the official opening on July 1st. We’ll soon be sending out invitations to our friends and supporters in industry, government, and the private sector. Needless to say, all our members will be welcome to attend this long-anticipated event. In the meantime, you are welcome to visit the Gallery as often as you wish, and witness the work in progress in developing it. Soon to be added is an interactive screen exhibit, similar to the popular one in the Community Centre. Rich McRea, Lisa Buckley and Tammy Pigeon have been hard at work on this project, which is the result of the disciplined work of the past five years in establishing the research centre with its collections and preparation facilities. The Gallery was funded largely with federal dollars through Community Futures.

The Tumbler Ridge Sports Hall of Fame was officially opened in the downstairs section of the Community Centre in February, with the first three athletes inducted (Jason Delesalle, Kris Swanson and Al Tattersall). The nomination committee (Mayor, Director of Community Centre, and TRMF President) have reviewed the new batch of nominations. As a result, three new outstanding sportspeople who have lived in Tumbler Ridge will be inducted into the Hall of Fame: Micheal Dufresne, Amber Kuenzl Prior and Cameron Smith. The date of the induction ceremony will be announced soon.

A few years ago BC’s first tyrannosaurid footprint was discovered in the Redwillow River area. With the help of Burlington Resources this rock, weighing many tons, was transported to Tumbler Ridge in -32 degree conditions. It will be an important display item and has already yielded some interesting scientific results. As part of the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail, it is planned to develop an open air exhibit near the discovery site, at the Redwillow Forest Recreation Site. ConocoPhilips is assisting with the costs of making an exact bronze replica of the footprint, which will be installed along with text displays. We hope to have this project completed by this summer.

We are also seeking funding to create another open air exhibit along the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail, at the Flatbed Forest Recreation Site, commemorating archaeological finds and the intriguing First Nations history of the area, and Culturally Modified Trees.

With the opening of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, some of our palaeontological exhibits in the Community Centre will be moved, and in their place, a “Who was Alex Monkman?” exhibit will be opened. This was prompted by the plethora of items named after this heroic pioneer: Monkman Provincial Park, Monkman Glacier, Monkman Pass, Monkman Lake, Monkman Creek, Monkman Falls, Monkman Way etc. Many people have expressed a need to know more about him and the projects he initiated in the Tumbler Ridge area. This exhibit will also focus on the praiseworthy efforts of the Monkman Homestead Preservation Society to restore the Monkman Homestead (1906) and Barn (1916), which are some of the oldest surviving buildings in the Peace Region. This fascinating site northwest of Grande Prairie will be a good destination for a summer field trip for our historically inclined members.

In the more distant future, another exhibit is planned to celebrate the life and works of Euphemia McNaught, the pioneer artist of the Peace who derived much inspiration from her Monkman Pass expeditions, and created the first, and some of the finest, art of our region’s mountains, lakes and creeks. We will be working with the Tumbler Ridge Community Arts Council on this project.

This is one of the times of year that we actively fundraise. Welcome donations have come in from Talisman Energy, CNRL and Spectra Energy in recent weeks. We are waiting to hear the results of our applications to Service Canada and the Direct Access Program Grant (Gaming funds). These will determine how many staff we can hire for our summer programs.  At our last Board meeting we also approved the concept of using some of the donations received from industry to pay for a dedicated fundraiser.

We have been working closely with the Tumbler Ridge Public Library to find a home for the Tumbler Ridge Archives, which we developed in 2006 with the help of a grant from 2010 Legacies Now. We hope that these priceless records, which once resided in basements in Tumbler Ridge and further afield, and have now been neatly catalogued, will soon be publicly accessible.

This week we began training our core group of summer employees. Tyler Shaw, a new graduate from the Palaeontology Honours program at the University of Alberta, and Chelsea Dupuis, second year undergrad in a Physical Geography program at the University of British Columbia, will be leading the summer educational programs (Dinosaur Camp and the Northern Wilderness Camp) which are now in their fifth year. Amy Cameron has joined us as the Dinosaur Footprint Tour Guide. These tours are now in their fourth year of operation. Please join me in welcoming these new recruits. We have received a number of resumes from senior students from T.R.S.S. and hope to be able to make use of their services in assistant positions in the Gallery, on tours, and in Dinosaur Camp.

The heavy snows mean the creeks will be full for a while to come, which will delay the necessary research that still needs to be done at a trackway site that was discovered in 2006. Once this is done, this site will also be opened to the public; the access trail has already been constructed.

Things look very promising for the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail, a project in which we partner with the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society. Five thousand copies of the 2007 edition of the Driving Tour brochure have been printed, and have been distributed to regional Visitor Info Centres etc. This improved version has 48 points of interest between Grande Prairie and Kinuseo Falls via the old Monkman route and Tumbler Ridge. If all goes according to plan, work on the Hiking Trail may even be completed this summer. This will create a four or five day long hike over the mountains, starting at Kinuseo Falls, following the 1930s Monkman Pass route.

Gloria Price has been doing a great job with her Membership portfolio, and our membership now stands at a record high. Memberships will become due at the time of our Annual General Meeting, which will take place on Thursday 28 June in the Tumbler Ridge Public Library at 7 p.m. Those new members who have joined us since January 1st will have their memberships carry over until 2008.

TRMF is a member or associate member of the following groups: BC Museums Association, Archives Association of BC, BC Historical Federation, and in the near future, BC Palaeontological Alliance. We receive numerous emails, newsletters and other material from these groups, which we usually file away and do not pass on to our members. If anyone with a special interest would like these forwarded, please let me know.

It is appropriate to praise and thank two of our members in particular: Ellen and Heinz Sager have been supportive of our endeavors for years, and recently responded to the call for accommodation for our summer students with a very generous offer of their condo in town. Ellen has also asked me to mention that anyone wanting to make toys, Afghans or sweaters with a dinosaur theme is welcome to call her and she will show them what patterns she has.

It is almost time for the fairly short palaeontological field season to begin. Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley are planning for another busy season, hopefully with weather just as good as last year, but without the fire. Once again, an extended expedition to the Kakwa site is on the cards. This year's team will likely be multidisciplinary and international, with experts in invertebrates and plants and geology joining us. BC Parks has indicated that our research centre is the official repository for the Kakwa material. Research into this and our other dinosaur footprint and bone specimens is ongoing, and scientific articles are emanating from our PRPRC. Some of our most precious fish and marine reptile specimens, including what is probably a baby ichthyosaur, are on loan to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology for study and description. Other visiting scientists, experts in their fields, will be coming to Tumbler Ridge this summer.

As many of you know, the past few months involved a fair amount of discussion and public debate about the proposed museum, and the support we have requested from the District of Tumbler Ridge. Firstly, thanks to all of our members and friends who displayed quite overwhelming support during this period. As an unanticipated result, awareness of our goals is an at all time high.

In summary, in approaching the NDI Trust for funding, we had requested a letter of support from the District indicating that 2007 funding levels would continue through 2009. This would have enabled us to employ a much needed Project Manager position (the project has become large enough that this is essential in relieving the volunteers and scientists of much of the administrative burden) and allow us to do the necessary studies to advance the project. Council appeared split on the issue.

What appeared to be an impasse appears to have been resolved during the visit of the highly qualified Aldrich Pears consulting group on April 19 and 20. A joint TRMF – DTR committee is about to be established to work on the advancement of the Museum project, with one of its first tasks a joint proposal to NDI for the Project Manager position. The work done by Aldrich Pears will produce their recommendations on the stepwise and disciplined work that needs to be done, and enabling this will be the second task of the committee.

Our opinion is that while in the long term the relative role of the District of Tumbler Ridge will decrease, as more provincial and federal support develops, for the foreseeable future the support and partnership of the District is vital to the project. It is therefore most gratifying to see the development of this committee, with the potential to reflect a true partnership, something we have been requesting for years.

For us, the issue has simply been one of advancing the project, with all the benefits it has for economic diversification for the community, education, scientific research etc. The fact that the recent process by which we got to this point was somewhat unusual and tense should not obscure the result: that the project now has greater than ever potential to proceed according to plan. In a recent very supportive letter, Economic Development Officer Ray Proulx wrote to us: “I feel the growing pains we’ve experienced of late are indicative of a project worth pursuing, and the process that we’re entering into will ultimately make it stronger in the end.” I would like to thank our Board for the constructive, flexible approach they supported through this process, and hope to report soon that the joint committee is fulfilling its potential.

Other signs of this partnership are to be seen in the way Ray Proulx and Lindsey Vandale have gone out of their way to help with promotion of our programs, and the letter of invitation to the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery opening will be a joint one, from TRMF and DTR. And at the April 20th meeting, very constructive and welcome suggestions were made by DTR regarding possible sites for the proposed museum. Watch also for the lowering of the berm in the near future, which will give a lot more visual exposure to the PRPRC and Dinosaur Discovery Gallery.

We have made huge strides this year. Thanks to every one of you for your support and encouragement. Please consider attending the AGM on June 28th.

Charles Helm

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