Many people seem to think of Canada as a place without any real history. These people obviously haven't been to Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park, where remnants of 75 million years old can be seen, untouched, in their original spot. What do you mean, no real history?
Of course, these remnants aren't buildings or other kind of artifacts from a culture long-gone. They are bones, which seem to have no cultural but only scientific and historical value, and are therefore considered no part of the country's history by holders of unfounded opinions. But since a human culture is always based on the land where its people live (the Mongolian yurt culture may spring to mind here), these bones actually do hold cultural value as well for they are a signifcant part of the Alberta badlands, a dry, barren landscape which is heavily eroded by melt water torrents at the end of the last ice age, 15-10.000 years ago. In the Canadian culture, these places become tourist hot spots to help pay for preservation and the education of the general public.
And so it happened that Megumi, my Japanese roommate from May until July, invited me to come along with her and a Korean girl on a two-day trip to Drumheller and the Dinosaur Provincial Park. (That name, though... Doesn't Provincial Dinosaur Park make more sense to the ears? As for the name "Drumheller": that one now shares the top spot on my list of favourite city names with Hammerfest) We rented a car in Banff and drove past Calgary eastwards to the fossils.
We spent the night in Drumheller and arrived at the park's visitor center, which also shelters the Royal Tyrrell Field Station (a branche of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is 100kms up the road near Drumheller - we didn't bother with the museum in a faked location of course), the next morning. The building was equipped with tens of displays of fossils of dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles and fish. All these animals, believe it or not, once lived here, in Canada, that "country without history".
I loved this display where a pack of small meat-eating somethingsaurs collectively attacks this poor herbivore...
We didn't stick to the center for long, because there's a great self-guided tour that people can do with their own vehicle (as opposed to the bus tour which costs extra but takes you beyond the freely accessible part). The greatest feat of the Dinosaur Park is that its staff could resist the temptation to dislocate all the fossils and have left a few of them where they actually were in the park. They have placed buildings around them to protect the bones against the weather and preserve them for future generations.
A fossile at the location where the animal died. The picture is taken through a glass window, part of a protective structure.
My two travel companions, who had initiated this trip, showed very little interest in the displays and seemed more keen to photograph the yellow buttercups around the protective structures. In the field of travel companions, the worst part is to travel with people who are not interested in their destination while you are. Megumi pointed at the yellow flowers and said enthusiastically, 'Tonpopo' (金鳳花 - "buttercup").
But what all three of us enjoyed, was the incredibly beautiful and unique badlands where these fossils happen to be. I'm going to leave you with two more pictures of the landscape.