Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, Whitehorse

The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, located next to the Yukon Transportation Museum, is a small but wonderful facility detailing the Beringia time period of the Yukon. Beringia represents the land bridge that once existed between Yukon and Siberia. During the Ice Age period, this area remained free of ice, as the glaciers did not form here. When the glaciers surrounding the area melted, the Bering Sea filled back up.

Animals were able to migrate from Euroasia to the America’s, and evidence of wooly mammals, lions and camels have been found in this region. As the climate changed over thousands of years, temperatures changed as well as the landscape, Boreal forests appeared, and a different species of land animals survived in the interglacial forests.

Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center

The highlight of the museum is a full cast of the Woolly Mammoth that was found in a farm field in Wisconsin. It was one of the most complete skeletons found. You can read more about that discovery here. Mammoths disappeared from Beringia when the Ice Age ended about 12,000 years ago.

Cast of Wooly Mammoth

You may have recently heard on the news about the discovery of a baby Wooly Mammoth, and that was found in this region. You can read more about this exciting discovery here.

Below is the menacing looking Jefferson Ground Sloth. While it may look ready to attack it’s prey, this mammal is a herbivore, not a carnivore, and the claws are for tree-climbing. According to the display, they are named in honor of US President Thomas Jefferson, who is considered to be the first paleontologist in North America. They roamed Yukon 75,000 years ago during an interglacial period. (which is what we are in now)

Jefferson’s Ground Sloth

Giant Short-faced Bears lived in Yukon and Alaska until about 20,000 years ago, disappearing at the last Ice Age. Remains have been found throughout North America.

Giant Short-Faced Bear

A single bone found in 1977 in northern Yukon was the first evidence that the wild bore (picture on wall behind the cast skeleton), a Flat-Headed Peccary, made it this far north in the America’s.

Flat-Headed Peccary

Fossils of the Scimitar Cat have been found in Texas and England, but rarely in the Beringia region. A limb was discovered in a gold mine in the permafrost near Dawson City, Yukon and DNA sequencing revealed these cats did roam this far north. The cast skull in the bottom of the photo is from a Sabretooth Cat found in California. There is no evidence of these cats in the Beringia region.

Scimitar Car

Skulls of (left to right) Black Bear, Grizzly Bear and the Giant Short-faced Bear

Comparison of Wolf and Grizzly Bear skulls

Our tour guide gave a demonstration in the use of the ATLATL, a spear throwing mechanism used to hunt animals. The arrow was placed on a lever, used to throw the arrow. As she put it, think of it as the ”chuck-it” dog toy thrower that you attach an arrow to.

Al trying his luck at getting ”dinner!” As you can see from all the arrows laying on the ground on the right side, none of us were successful at hunting!

Evidence of lions has been found.

As well as camels. Yes, camels roamed the Yukon!

On our way into the museum, there is a statute of a Giant Beaver. Little did I know, these actually existed! So the model I’m standing next to, is really a life-size model. Nose to tail, they were 8 feet in length. They were the size of today’s black bear. It is the largest rodent known from the Pleistocene Epoch.

The Giant Beaver is real!

Below is a skull of the modern day beaver in comparison to a cast skull of the Giant Beaver!

If you go to the museum, make sure you take the time to watch the movie about the Beringia era. If was very informative, and discussed how the men digging for gold during the Klondike Gold Rush actually discovered many fossils that were stuck in the muck, also known as the permafrost region, which is about 60 meters deep in the Yukon.

Quote of the Day: ”We were meant to explore this earth like children do, unhindered by fear, propelled by curiosity and a sense of discovery. Allow yourself to see the world through new eyes and know there are amazing adventures here for you.” – Laurel Bleadon Maffe

Yukon Transportation Museum, Whitehorse

Whitehorse has several museums to visit, but with limited time, we chose just two of them to see. The Yukon Transportation Museum and the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre are located next to each other, and have a combo pass for $12 Canadian. They both exceeded our expectations. There is room for RV’s in both parking lots. I’ll split the museums up in two posts, so it won’t get too long. .

Directly in front of the museum sits the world’s largest weathervane, a 1942 Douglas DC-3. You can read more about the history of this plane here

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The museum contains a wide variety of exhibits covering the history of transportation in the Yukon. An early form of transportation in the Yukon.

This Concord stagecoach was used in the early 1900’s, by the White Pass and Yukon Route for use on the Overland Trail. The extreme weather and terrain proved to be too tough for this vehicle, and ended up being used as a mail truck in town.

Concord Stagecoach

A 1992 Chevrolet Caprice Classic was used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In 1995, the blue was phased out, and all RCMP vehicles are now white.

A 1965 International Harvester Travelall 1000 Ambulance

The “old” and the “new” forms of vehicles that modernized the city of Whitehorse.

In September of 1945, after the war was over, the US and Canada agreed to let a bus service operate on the Alaska Highway. The British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN) operated a twice weekly bus service between Dawson City and Whitehorse until 1965. This is an old BYN Passenger Bus that was preserved in the condition it was found.

A 1954 Bombardier J5 Tractor, nicknamed “Fluffy the Snow Cat.” It was used by the Yukon Electric Company to pack and groom trails along the power lines that were not accessible by roadway.

A crop duster plane.

This HIller 360 CF-FAV Revival Gang helicopter was used for topographical surveys in the Yukon. In 1952, the pilot crashed due to a faulty fuel pump, and the pontoons snagged on the ground causing the helicopter to flip. The occupants were not injured and they abandoned the helicopter. Sixty-two years later it was recovered and restored for the museum.

A 1969 Bombardier 335 Olympique Skidoo was the successor to the 330 model which was used in the 1968 Expedition to the North Pole. Snowmobiles were, and continue to be, widely used to reach remote areas in the winter in the Yukon.

In 1974 the Yukon Status of Women Council formed a commission to study public transportation needs for women and children in Whitehorse. By 1975, the Yukon Women’s Mini-Bus Society was created, and they pursued a grant from Transport Canada. In 1976, this green passenger mini-bus, manufactured by Fleury Industries in Saskatchewan, Canada, was purchased by the city of Whitehorse with money awarded by the grant. The Women’s Mini-Bus Society operated the city’s only public transportation, providing women with non-traditional job opportunities. In 1978 the Whitehorse City Transit Commission was formed and took over the operation, but kept the original women employee’s on in their positions.

In 1920 Eva Hasell founded the Canadian Sunday School Caravan Mission. It was a way to provide Sunday school services to children in isolated communities in Western Canada. The van was staffed with two women, one trained in religious education, and the other as the driver/mechanic. The van had beds and camping gear in the back, and the women were known as ”Vanners.” This white 1956 Ford Chassis F-350 was converted into a Frontier Mission Van.

Below is a photograph from the museum with the above vehicle used at Haines Junction, Yukon, in the 1960’s.

I always try to find something from our home state of Wisconsin in our travels. This 1950 Oshkosh W7000 (serial number 3780) truck was used for many tasks in the Yukon, from snow plowing, to a water tanker to minimize dusty conditions on the Alaska Highway. It remained in service until 1964.

This 1942 Fordson 9N tractor reminded Dan and I of the yellow tractor that he used the past six summers working at Teton Cabins. I’m not sure what the make/model of ”big Yellow” as Dan called it was, but it looks very similar to this.

After finishing up the Yukon Transportation Museum, the four of us walked next door to the Beringian Museum, which will be the next post.

Quote of the Day: “A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can.” – Maira Kalman

Philip J Currie Dinosaur Museum

We left St Albert and continued on our journey towards Alaska, stopping in Grand Prairie, Alberta for a few nights. Since the weather had rain, rain and more rain in the forecast, we opted to stay a few days in Grand Prairie. Going to museums are always excellent ideas on rainy days, so the four of us headed out to the Philip J Currie Dinosaur Museum, located about 15 miles from Grand Prairie.

According to a plaque in the museum, Philip Currie found a toy dinosaur in a cereal box when he was six years old, and he decided to be a paleontologist. While he was working on his PhD, he started working for the Provincial Museum of Alberta (now called the Royal Alberta Museum) in Edmonton. Dr. Currie helped to found the Royal Terrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta.

This museum is located near the Pipestone Creek Bonebed, where the remains of a Pachyrhinosaurus was discovered by a local teacher, Al Lakusta, in 1974.

Philip J Currie Museum

The museum has a platform with displays on the top floor, overlooking the main exhibits. It’s a bit hard to see the dinosaur’s hanging from the ceiling. There was a light of natural light in the museum, which made it hard for photos.

The Thalassomedon was a sea-dwelling reptile belonging to a group of plesiosaurs called elasmosaurs. They are known for their very long necks (62 vertebrae) and small heads. They have large, paddle-like limbs, and were around 40 feet in length.

Thalassomedom

The Tylosaurus is marine reptile, not a dinosaur. It was found in southwestern Manitoba, and was about 33 feet long.

Tylosaurus

The two big fish (about 12 feet) next to the Tylosaurus are called Ichthyodectes. Fossils of these fish have been found from Canada all the way down to Texas.

Tylosaurus (left) and Ichthyodectes

A Saurornitholestes and some other unknown creature!

Below is a Struthiomimus, a two-legged dinosaur that looked like an ostrich. It has a small head on a long neck, with long legs that allowed it to run quickly.

The Pachyrhinosaurus was a large four-legged dinosaur. This was the species found in the nearby bonebed back in 1974.

Pachyrhinosaurus

All of the humerus bones (upper arm) below were found at the Pipestone Creek bonebed. They are all from Pachyrhinosaurus’s of various ages.

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This Styracosaurus skull was found in southern Alberta.

The Gorgosaurus skeleton, found in southern Alberta, is lizard about 26 feet in length, nose to tail.

The museum has an educational area, where you can look at slides of insects and other tiny specimens.

Math teachers like science

This is the Fossil Prep Lab where volunteers and staff are currently working on cleaning and stabilizing fossils that are found in the nearby bonebed.

A separate portion of the museum goes into the discovery of oil and gas in the region. It is a wonderful museum, with many more fossils and dinosaur’s on display than I have listed here.

Quote of the Day: “Dinosaurs are the best way to teach kids, and adults, the immensity of geologic time.” – Robert T. Bakker

Heritage Park, Calgary, Alberta

Heritage Park is referred to as “Canada’s largest living history experience.” We happened to attend on opening day for the season of 2022, and the employees were excited to have everything fully opened for the first time in two summers. The park covers the history of Canada from the mid-1800s to the 1930s. Covering over 127 acres, there is a lot to see and do for all ages. Plan on a lot of walking! As I previously blogged on, this park also contains the excellent Gasoline Alley Museum. If possible, I would recommend doing the park and museum separately. We just had one day, and it can be done, but you will be exhausted. Here’s another blog post where I went crazy with photos.

The park pays tribute to Alberta’s “Famous 5” women that fought for equal rights for all women in Canada. Since this is a post about the park, if you want to read more about what the women accomplished, click on this link. The Alberta Five

The Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women

Interior photos of the house, a replica of Nellie McClung’s Calgary residence from 1923 – 1932.

There is a section called “Prospect Ridge” that talks about the history of prospecting for gold, coal mining, and oil drilling.

Prospector’s “cabin”
A working water wheel

They have a “mini” replica of a coal mine that you can walk in.

In 1911 oil was discovered by W. S. Herron in southern Alberta. He started the Calgary Petroleum Products Company with A.W. Dingman. This is a reproduction of Dingman No. 1 Discovery Well.

Village Centre, circa 1910

The park has reproductions of buildings replicating life in the early 1900’s, with houses, drugstore, hotel, bakery, newspaper, post office, general stores, saloon and more. The buildings are open to tour and staffed by docents in period costumes explaining the history of the building.

Calgary Town Hall

The post office was not only the place to send and receive mail, but it served as the phone company as well. The postmaster knew all the gossip in town!

The phone company

This structure is all that remains from the barracks of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (which eventually became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920) in Banff.

Wainwright Hotel and Bar Room circa 1907

The Strathmore and Bow Valley Standard newspaper was founded in 1909. It was a weekly paper. Back in the day, the owner did everything from reporting to printing the paper. It was a very labor intensive process.

Printing press

The Montefiore Institute Synagogue was one of eleven Jewish farm colonies established across Canadian prairies between 1887 and 1914. This is a rare surviving example of a prairie synagogue that has been fully restored.

Interior of the synagogue

What’s a town without a bakery? This was a very popular stop, with fresh loaves of baked bread, cookies and cinnamon rolls. If you look close at the picture below, Karen and Al are sitting on the bench next door, with Dan in front of them, enjoying some freshly baked goods. The building they are sitting at is Baron’s Snooker, which contained a barber shop and snooker tables.

Alberta Bakery
Barber shop

Snooker tables are similar to pool, but are considerably larger at 12 x 6 feet.

Snooker tables

This house, built in 1907, has been restored to represent a Cottage Hospital.

The nurse is demonstrating the instruments and techniques used.

Doctors office
Hospital room

St Martin’s Church, constructed in 1896.

The Rectory

Interior of St Martin’s Church.

The docent played a few hymns on this church organ.

Gledhill’s Drugstore, built in Dundurn Saskatchewan in 1908. Pharmacists would set up shop in small communities to dispense medicinal powers and alcohol-based elixirs. In addition to providing basic medical advice, they administered first aid, pulled teeth and treated livestock. Since they earned little money from the drugs, they would sell toiletries, candy and basic supplies to supplement their income.

Lots of “remedies”
Pharmacist/Apprentice wanted $6/week!
Dan and Al shopping in the drug store

Wait, is there a dog in the display case in the above photo? It looks like it could be one of Makena’s relatives!

Peter Prince relocated from Quebec to Calgary in 1886 as manager of Wisconsin based Eau Claire and Bow Valley Lumber Company. In 1894, the very wealthy Mr Prince built this 3300 square foot home, with eight bedrooms and modern utilities.

Prince House
Dining room
Parlor

The Burnside Ranch House, where one of the docents was preparing lunch for other volunteers. They have gardens, chickens, and pigs in the park, and try to live off the land, just as they did a century ago.

Fully working stove
Hudson’s Bay Company Fur Trading Fort Circa 1860

This docent gave a very detailed discussion on the history of fur trading and the values of various pelts. Beaver pelts were highly valued.

Furs for sale

Heritage Park was a lot of fun to visit (and a good way to get a lot of steps in!).

Quote of the Day: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

Gasoline Alley Museum

Gasoline Alley Museum located at Heritage Park in Calgary, Alberta, is a “must see” if you are in the area. This museum is open year round. The historical village portion of Heritage Park is open mid-May to October. I will do a separate post on the historical village portion of the park. This post contains a lot of photos, so it may take some time to load if you have internet issues.

The museum contains antique cars, trucks, gas pumps and signage from petroleum companies. All of the items were donated from a local businessman, Ron Carey. In talking with one of the docents working in the museum, they received about 1/3 of his collection of vehicles. He also stated they believe the museum houses the largest collection of gas pumps in Canada.

Our friends that we are traveling with, Karen and Al Phillips, found the ”Phillips” gas pump.

The green vehicle on the right is a 1937 Terraplane “Big Boy” Pickup, featuring a waterfall grill. A 1912 Buick Model 2-A Express Truck is to the left.

The rear view of the trucks.

This is a 1924 unrestored International Truck that was found rusting away on a farm. It has been left as they found it.

The first outdoor gasoline pump was invented by Sylvanus Bowser. In 1905, the “Bowser Self-Measuring Gasoline Storage Pump,” a metal tank inside a wooden cabinet with a flexible hose and manual suction pump, was put into service. The Shell tank below is a model from 1911.

1911 pump with 1950s model in rear

The first pumps were called “pre-visible pumps” since customers could not see what they were buying.

In 1915, “visible pumps” were invented. Gas was pumped from an underground storage tank into the “visible” glass tank, so customers could see what and how much they were buying. Apparently people felt they were getting cheated by the gas companies, so this solved the problem. 100 plus years later, people still feel cheated by the gas companies!

Visible pumps

Clock-faced pumps began appearing in the 1920’s that were faster and more accurate than the visible pumps. A bell rang with every gallon dispensed, and the dial would show the total amount pumped.

Clock-faced pumps

In 1934, the computer pump was invented. It would “compute” the total sale in dollars and gallons.

Computer pumps

A rare, fully restored 1926 Shell Tanker fuel delivery truck with a 500-gallon fuel tank and 12 5-gallon fuel cans.

1919 Oldsmobile 3/4 Ton Truck. Trucks like these were very popular with farmers and delivery companies.

1927 GMC Sedan Delivery Vehicle. The Imperial Bank of Canada had a fleet of maroon vehicles. This one was used to deliver packages.

1956 Plymouth Sport Suburban Station Wagon. The lighting doesn’t really show how bright pink this vehicle is. I think every person walking by said “wow, that’s really pink!”

1931 L-29 Cord, a popular front-wheel drive car.

1932 Auburn with a 6.4-liter V12 engine.

1905 Cadillac, found in an abandoned gold mine in Northern California. It was likely a Model E Runabout that was converted by a prospector into a truck. It has been preserved to the condition it was found in.

Front and rear photos of a 1915 Cadillac that was retrofitted in 1922 as a tow truck.

A 1908 Mitchell. The MItchell Motor Car Company was located in Racine, Wisconsin. We are both from Wisconsin, but I had never heard of the company until I saw this vehicle.

The museum has an extensive collection of signs.

Below, on the left is a 1909 McIntyre Model M high wheel runabout. A 1911 Model 49 Overland is on the right.

On the left is a 1918 Chevrolet 490 (named for it’s selling price of $490). It was designed to compete with the Ford Model T. The maroon vehicle is a 1922 Gray-Dort Model 19-B, produced in Chatham, Ontario.

Two photos of a 1933 Diamond T Brewery Truck Model 210-FF. Diamond Ts were considered to be the ”Cadillac of Trucks” based on their performance and construction.

The green vehicle is a 1945 Federal Dump Truck that could hall four yards. The red vehicle is a 1941 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton Tow Truck.

A rare 1949 Endor Pixie Motorized Bicycle, with a two speed gearshift on the left handlebar and a twist grip throttle on the right. It had a top speed of 26 mph.

Front and rear photos of a 1928 Ford AR Roadster Pickup. This was a Canadian built model, because both the driver and passenger doors open. Fords built in the US had no drivers door that opened, to prevent drivers from stepping out and into traffic. In Canada, some provinces drove on the right, and some on the left, up until the 1940s. So two functional doors were needed.

This was just a wonderful museum. There is such a variety of vehicles on display, in various conditions. My photos are only a fraction of what they have on display here. If you are in the Calgary area, make sure to stop in – you won’t regret it.

Quote of the Day: “The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.” – Dudley Moore