It’s been a quiet start to the year for the Hudson’s Hope Museum, and while not much is new, everything old is making news again.
Last week I had the good fortune to be invited out for a tour of the Tumbler Ridge Museum, checking out over 3,000 unique fossils stored at the facility. Many thanks to Mayor Keith Bertrand and Museum Manager Zena Conlin, I’m sure I’ll be out for a visit again soon.
From prehistoric times to pioneers, the history of this region remains undeniably significant.
During my visit, I was pleased to learn that work will be continuing on the Six Peaks dinosaur track site in Hudson’s Hope, hopefully starting in 2022 with paleontologists returning from the Royal BC Museum. It's a second chance for footprints found only in the Gething Formation, dating back to the Early Cretaceous.
The unique find features tracks from multiple species in one place. The site was unveiled in 2016, and hasn’t seen much action since then.
For those who don’t know, Hudson’s Hope has always been an untapped dinosaur frontier alongside Tumbler Ridge, with trackways discovered in the 1920s along the Peace River Canyon by geologist F. H. McLearn. In the 1930s, researcher Charles Mortram Sternberg surveyed and studied the tracks found by McLearn, discovering several new species.
Unfortunately, many of those tracks were lost during the creation of the Peace Canyon Dam in 1979, giving Dinosaur Lake its namesake. A recovery effort was started in 1976 by Dr. Philip J. Currie with the Royal Alberta Museum, saving what they could of the footprints before they were left in a watery tomb.
A new marine reptile species was also discovered in 1988; the Hudsonelpedia, a rare Ichthyosaur. It's also been called 'The Little Devil in the Rocks'. The fossil was found by Frank Riter, a local tour boat operator on Williston Lake. A diamond saw was borrowed and Riter cut the Hudsonelpedia out the rocks with the help of friends.
We lack the climate controls to adequately keep most dinosaur discoveries and fossils, so a replica now sits in our museum, with the original having been shipped off to the Royal Ontario Museum decades ago.
Regardless, I’ve always enjoyed the story of how the Hudsonelpedia became an important fixture for the museum. If you haven’t seen the casting, I encourage you to visit Hudson’s Hope and see it for yourself. The same goes for Tumbler Ridge, please support their museum; you won't be disappointed with the stories they have to tell.
Keeping with the dino theme, Reginald Wither Shaw was our pioneer of the month for February, known as 'Uncle Dudley' to the community. Dudley also happens to be the name of Hudson's Hope's retired dinosaur mascot. Shaw arrived in Hudson's Hope in 1912, after relocating to Lloydminster in 1903 from England.
Dudley spent his time trapping, cooking in the occasional camp, and working in the Hudson’s Bay Store, which is now the present day museum. He passed in 1965 and was buried in the pioneer cemetery overlooking the town.
The museum is always looking for volunteers if you have a keen interest in history or would just like to learn a little more about the valley we live in. Come out and volunteer – we have lots of scanning and accessioning of historical photos and artifacts to be done. Training is provided.
The board continues to social distance due to COVID-19, and has not been holding meetings in person. A date has yet to be announced for our next meeting. In the meantime, business continues as usual at the museum, with our winter hours continuing to be Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Summer hours will be starting in May, but we are open Easter Weekend.
If you would like any further information, please call the museum at (250) 783-5735 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Summer is President of the Hudson's Hope Historical Society.