The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Of Dinosaurs and Badlands

When we prepared our sales pitch to the kids about moving, we fully understood that each child had a different button we needed to push to get their agreement.  For the Apprentice, it was the promise of hockey.  For the Girl, new adventures hiking and skiing in the mountains.  For Mid, it was dinosaurs.  So far, we had made good on our commitments to the Apprentice and Girl.  But for Mid, our promise of dinosaurs was starting to appear empty.  So this weekend, although my daughter begged to go skiing in the fresh powder (to be honest, I wanted to as well), we made good.  We took the family to see some dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Alberta Badlands.

As we started out, we explained that this was going to be a bit of a car ride.  “How long?” Apprentice asked.  “About an hour and a half,” I replied.  A little bit into the ride, he asked for the first of many times, “How much longer?”

“About an hour,” I replied.

“That’s forever!”

“Actually, it’s the time of two Spongebob Squarepants episodes,” Mid reasoned with him.  This appeased the Apprentice.  I am not proud to admit that our concept of time directly relates to Spongebob and iCarly.

In any case, we were on our way.  I was beginning to get suspicious of the directions JB had printed off google, as we seemed to be headed further and further east into nowhere.  I was sure that at any moment we would cross into Manitoba or Saskatchewan and be lost for days.  Then, out of nowhere, the earth opened up into this massive, striped ravine and we started to descend into the thick of it.

“We’re almost there!” JB exclaimed.  Really?  I thought to myself.  Because from where I am sitting it looks like we are headed underground, below wheat fields.  Harumph.

The ride through the quaint town of Drumheller, Alberta, was entertaining with all the touristy shops with their dinosaur signs and whatnot.  And after crossing the Red Deer River, we arrived at the museum.  Folks, if you ever get to Alberta and have the slightest interest in geology or dinosaurs or paleontology, you must visit this museum.  The scenery surrounding the museum is right out of your textbooks explaining sedimentary rocks, erosion and ice ages.   When inside this museum, you are witness to excavating work, dinosaur fossils (that have been recovered mostly in Alberta) and hands-on exhibits explaining all of it.  In a word – amazinglyeducationallyrelevant.  Not a word?  Okay, I can’t do it.  I simply cannot explain the entire place in a word.  My kids were taken by the hands on exhibits about the Jurassic periods, ice ages and the like.  For those that are visually oriented, there were interesting videos about the landscape outside.  For those that just like to read the information, everything was displayed in a way that you could read about it and examine it in detail.


We went through museum, (though it feels weird to call it that, because everything begged your participation, not just your observation and acknowledgement), soaking in all kinds of information.  Where were/are all these fossils found?  Why are they found all together?  Why are they in those contorted positions?  Some dinosaurs really moved in herds?  How did it all end?  Are there any remaining creatures from this period?  Who are the scientists that study all this stuff?

There was a significant display of Women in Paleontology, which was great for my daughter.  Many were women from the late 1800s and early 1900s that could not be published or publicly recognized because of their gender.  Although many made brilliant discoveries, their work was published through someone else, (a man).  My kids and I had a conversation about the sexism of this practice and why it was “stupid” (to quote Mid).  There were also biographies still in the works as these women continue to work with the Royal Tyrrell Museum or within the science of paleontology.  Did you know that there is scientist that researches how dinosaurs and reptiles smell?  Or how their brains function?  Amazing.  But I digress.

After a walk through the inside, it was time to go out to the walking trails.  We will definitely be back to the Badlands in the summer, because today we only able to walk about one kilometer of the trails due to the weather. (It has been a warm, sunny winter, but this IS Canada, eh?)

As we headed out, JB and I were pleased with the day.  We had made good on a promise, (‘There will be dinosaurs, a lot of dinosaurs”), our kids had a fun, educational day away from the television and we found a great place to visit again and again.

We called this one "The Treehugger", but it is actually a Prosaurolophus.

I should probably note the pictures in this post were taken by me.  Our family was not compensated by the museum, we just had a great time, learned alot and I felt the need to share.  However, if an organization would like to compensate me in some way by reviewing their stuff, please contact me.  I’m not that way.  Below is a link to the museum’s website for your perusal or for you to ignore, your choice.


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One thought on “Of Dinosaurs and Badlands

  1. That picture of the Alberta badlands might as well be a picture of where I grew up in Northeastern Montana. And the dinosaur bears a striking resemblance to my mother in law. Are you sure this post wasn’t about me?

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