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Museums and Collections

Of the 300 museums in the province only a select few give much priority to Paleontology.

Royal British Columbia Museum

Founded in 1886 the Royal British Columbia Museum was the first major provincial museum to be established west of Ontario. Today it houses more than 10,000 fossil specimens representing the sites across the province and throughout the geological time scale. Many of the specimens were obtained a century or so ago by G.M. Dawson of the Geological Survey of Canada and C.F. Newcombe. The most spectacular collections at the museum include Triassic fossil fishes from Wapiti Lake, dinosaur tracks from Peace River, skull of a Bison from Vancouver Island and a four-meter long icthyosaur from Holberg Inlet, Vancouver Island.

M.Y. Williams Geological Museum

Located in the Department of Geological Sciences of the University of British Columbia the museum displays collections of early trilobites, Jurassic ammonoids, Cambrian archeocyathids and a full-sized hadrosaur.

Hudson's Hope Museum

Built in 1942 for the Hudson's Bay Company the building was turned into a museum in the mid 1960's. Collections of this museum include a rare icthyosaur, prehistoric turtle carapace, hadrosaur tracks, mammoth teeth, prehistoric bison skulls and ammonites.

Kelowna Museum

Archaeopteryx fossils from other parts of the world and an Eocene bird from British Columbia is housed here.

Princeton Museum

Built in 1997 numerous local plant fossils of the Cenozoic age are found here.

Courtenay and District Museum

Formed by a volunteer historical society in the late 1960's the Courtenay museum has a large collection of fossils including two large reptiles elasmosaur and mosasaur.

Vancouver Island Paleontological Museum

Recently established at Qualicum Bay. Based on personal collections of Graham and Tina Beard this museum houses over 5,000 high-quality plant and animal fossils of the Late Cretaceous.

Fossil Museums Outside British Columbia

Most B.C. fossils collected for scientific purposes are housed outside British Columbia; about a third are elsewhere in Canada; and slightly more than half are in the United States. Major B.C. collections reside at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Alberta and the Geological Survey of Canada.

Royal Tyrrell Museum - Opened in 1985, at the community of Drumheller, Alberta. The museum has collections of fish specimens and invertebrates from BC. More about Royal Tyrell here.

Royal Ontario Museum - Collections from BC housed in this museum include mollusks and mammals form Cenozoic deposits, dinosaur trackways, Burgess Shale fossils and icthyosaurs.

Geological Survey of Canada - Collections include BC conodonts, ammonoids, bivalves and Burgess Shale fossils.

British Museum of Natural History - Fossil crustaceans from BC.

Smithsonian Institution - Collections of Walcott specimens from BC.

Burke Museum at the University of Washington - Collection include BC Cenozoic fossil plants.


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