The railway brought surveyor George Robinson to the Peace Country in 1915; the war took him away again almost immediately. He came back, ready to dive into his new work as a homesteader, then supervisor for the Prairie Farm Assistance Act.
That last job was the one that had him travelling all over the area, familiarizing him with the creeks, rivers, and rock formations. The amateur paleontologist inside soon had Robinson exploring likely spots for fossils after work.
He had a good eye for a good site: Robinson’s hobby collection grew into a substantial private museum. Thousands of local fossils represented the diverse flora and fauna of the Peace Country’s ancient past. Robinson’s museum was widely known, but he also shared his specimens with local schools and universities. The British Museum and the New York City Museum received samples of fossilized Peace Country finds.
The Bad Heart Sandstone Formation was a particular favourite with Robinson. This late-Cretaceous marine sandstone layer outcrops in many places, including the Spirit, Bad Heart, Burnt and Smoky Rivers. It yielded ammonites, molluscs, and petrified wood under the sharp eye of George Robinson.
His best finds included an ancient human skull, a portion of the backbone of the dinosaur gorgosaurus, and a lobster, a fossil for which the Bad Heart Formation is now known in paleontological circles.
George Robinson didn’t collect all the fossils in this area. Plenty are still out there for you to discover! While you’re waiting for summer, maybe you’d like to spend some time researching Robinson’s catalogue of specimens, now housed in Grande Prairie Regional Archives.
Have you tried fossil hunting and found a unique piece of Peace Country past? Town Spirit would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input on this and any other subject is always welcome here.
P.S. The dinosaur in the picture is a gorgosaurus, but not necessarily the exact type whose bones were found by Robinson.