• Windword Press

Trilobites and Dinosaurs

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

One of the things that impresses me about Quebec is its dedication to history and museums.

If there is something worth noting or preserving, Quebec makes a very good job of it.

One of those museums is located in the little town of Notre-Dame-du-Nord in Northwestern Quebec. Located on the corner of the two main streets in the town is a small but very illuminating museum dedicated to the geological history of the Lake Temiskaming rift. This rift was responsible for the silver of Cobalt and area which was discovered by railway men and loggers in 1903 and resulted in enough wealth being produced to turn Toronto from a large town into a prosperous city and encourage prospectors to turn an eye to the rest of Canada and develop other large pockets of mineral wealth—in particular gold.

The geology of the Lake Temiskaming region goes back to the earliest history of the planet. It's hard to understand what really has taken place over time. Geologists still debate the exact occurrences, and there are varying opinions about how there came to be rivers of silver spilling over and under the area in and around what is now Cobalt.

Mining exploration companies have drilled down into the rock of the area, exploring ancient volcanoes that once spewed diamonds from deep in the earth.

At one time the earth was adrift with large continents of rock. From somewhere near present day Australia, one such continent of rock smashed into another in what we now know as Canada. A large range of mountains resulted from that violent meeting of continents.

It's hard to fathom glaciers so large and destructive that they could in turn scour those same mountains away.

The beautiful undulating ribbons of rock found in the Muskoka and Parry Sound areas are the result of massive mountains weighing down on the rock below. The power and heat of such force caused the rock at the roots of the mountains to separate into layers. The mountains above them have now been pushed away, and small pieces of them likely can be found in the northeastern part of the American continent.

Many tiny fragments of dinosaur bones can also be found there, brought from across southeastern Canada.

The little museum—Fossilarium du Nord—has an inscription along the top of one wall pointing out that much of the “story” we are reading is missing. It is because it has been carved away by the glaciers.

Looking around the museum I saw references to dinosaurs and dinosaur eggs. Having lived in the area for much of my life, I knew of no evidence of dinosaurs in the region. The guide explained that back in the time of the dinosaurs, they would have been roaming about one kilometre above our heads. That much of our terrain has been dragged away by the glaciers.

The museum also offers a fascinating insight into the creation of an inland sea over the eons, and the gradual drifting down into the depths of time of numbers of sea creatures from the past.

An ancient inland water body known as Lake Barlow-Ojibway once covered the area from as far north as the Hudson Bay. Its shores stretched across Northeastern Ontario and Northwestern Quebec. It was likely not the only water body that rested over this region. During the presence of this and other water bodies, layers of mud, clay, and marine life settled under the water.

When the last glaciers retreated, the great lake was broken and drained away, leaving in its wake the present-day Lake Temiskaming which flows into the Ottawa River then down to the St. Lawrence and on out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Apart from some very deep expanses of clay which stretch across the region, creating a wonderful area for farming, there is much limestone, and many wonderful examples of the marine life which once inhabited the area.

Trilobites, snails, and other creatures once drifted through the space people now inhabit, just as dinosaurs once strolled through the area now inhabited by the clouds, and whose bones are now on the other side of the continent.

The earth is a fascinating place, and it is amazing to think of how much there is to understand about any one part of it—even in the spot we currently occupy.

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