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08172018Fri
Last updateFri, 17 Aug 2018 11am

Tyrrell Museum continues to evolve

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    Charles Darwin once said: “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
    He’d hardly think of a day at the Royall Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller to be a waste. You’d have to read On the Origin of Species to get more.
    The world-renowned museum features more than 120,000 specimens, but with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s iconic work and the 200th anniversary of his birth, a few in particular are receiving special attention.
    Meet Sarcosuchus. No, it’s not a Greek philosopher but rather the largest crocodile ever to walk the Earth. Known affectionately as Super Croc, its skull measures 1.7 metres long and houses 140 teeth. That makes it bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex or Albertosaurus. The carnivorous dinosaur discovered by Joseph Burr Tyrrell in the Canadian Badlands in 1884.
    A rare cast of the skull highlights the “I think…” exhibit at the museum, which pays homage to the man whose theories are the foundations of modern biology. Darwin scribbled those words in 1837 atop a sketch of what is now known as the first ever depiction of an evolutionary tree.
    Super Croc is the biggest example of evolution, but dozens of others will have you alternately gasping in amazement and learning about the theory of evolution. From a range of skulls depicting human ancestry to the fossil of Archaeopteryx, a prehistoric bird, you’ll get a sense of how and why life adapts.
    But that’s just one exhibit in a marvelous museum with many more. From fun interactive displays to the window where you watch new fossils get prepared, every corner of the 120,000 square foot facility is full of wonderment.
    Just driving in to the museum is enough to give you goose bumps. With hoodoos and sandstone cliffs, the six-kilometre route northwest of Drumheller features little development as discoveries are still being made. One rare exception is the Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club, which has nine of its splendid 18 holes constructed around the desert-like landscape. A trip into the valley wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Horsethief Canyon, noted for its spectacular views, hiking trails and hoodoos galore. Standing atop the cliffs you can easily envision the shallow waters that covered the area 100 million years ago. The Bleriot Ferry and Atlas Coal Mine are also nearby, with stories of more recent history ready to be told.
    The Canadian Badlands would have been a veritable playground for a man like Charles Darwin. Now it’s your turn to discover.

Restoration work on Dorothy Churches revives area history

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    The Grassroots of Dorothy are continuing its project of bringing back to life the historic churches that remain one of the valley’s attractions.
    The group undertook the project in 2006, with the goal of making sure the historic Catholic and United churches in Dorothy would remain for future generations. At the time, if the group had not intervened, it is possible they would no longer be here today.
    Fast forward to 2009, hundreds of man hours, fundraising efforts and donations of building supplies have the churches standing as reminders of the area’s history. 
    This summer a major step was undertaken as the group refinished the interior walls of the United Church. Betty Faubion explains they reconstructed the lost and broken laths by planing survey stakes to the proper width. Because the art of lath and plastering is slowly being lost, they opted to stucco the interior. Ryan Pascut of Pascut Masonry in Rosedale completed the work, leaving a new look and feel to the inside of the church.
    Betty says they are waiting for the stucco to cure before they begin painting the interior.
    This is just one of a long list of improvements to the churches, and it is certainly not the end of the road. She says the aged character of the churches will always remain.
    “If you get a new back, you can’t always stand straight,” laughs Betty.   
    The project began about three years ago by cleaning up the churches, hauling away tons of debris and mess left by some of the animals that inhabited the church. The roofs of the churches were replaced, sealing them from the weather, and the foundations were shored up. New windows and doors from the outside also help keep the elements out.
    Right now they have the wood to replace the floor of the Catholic Church. They also want to fix the floor of the United Church, sand, paint and install the casings.
    One new milestone they have reached is a youth group from the Lutheran Church in Strathmore held a Sunday Morning service in the United Church, and 17 people attended. The traffic to the churches of people coming to see the site has increased, and it remains a popular destination for photographers.
    While the project continues on, they are thankful for the support, but they could always use more helping hands.
    Much of the labour has been supplied by Frank Roes, Larry Smith and Ray Faubion. Betty says they could always use more hands to help.
    For more information, to volunteer or contribute to the Grassroots of Dorothy and the restoration of the churches contact Betty at 403-822-2121.

Vintage Pub and Grill returns to roots

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    The Vintage Pub and Grill has gone back to its roots of a modern establishment for patrons to enjoy the company of friends over a drink and some good food.   
    The Vintage owned and operated by the Pappas family who have been in the valley for 18 years, has come a long way from its predecessors the Octane Night Club, and the Zoo, and has gone back to its roots. When it was built, the property was the Alexandra Hotel’s bar and lounge. As construction progressed, proprietor Evan Pappas, learned about the original establishment from people who remembered the original bar.
    “As we were building some of the old timers came in and told us how it was in the 1940’s said Pappas, sitting in the new Vintage Pub and Grill. The place has a warm comfortable feel, as patrons are surrounded by warm hardwood, bright windows and new tile and mason work.
    Some remember a barbershop on the north end, as well as a taxi stand and a separate entrance for women, the custom of the day.
    While the new establishment looks completely modern, Pappas said they took great care in the renovation to maintain the character of the building. They have structurally renovated the building and added modern insulation and high efficiency HVAC systems, as well as installed a kitchen. The exterior of the building retains its original character, and not only reflects a revitalized property and business, but a revitalized piece of the history of downtown Drumheller.
    He is encouraged by the health of downtown, when looking out his door; he sees the revamped Drumheller Lodge and the new Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as many vibrant businesses along the block.
 The renovations began in February of this year, although they have been in the works for almost two years. He says the previous business, the Octane Night Club had run its course. The novelty of a nightclub wearing off, coupled with changes in the Alberta Liquor and Gaming laws spurred their decision.
    The new pub and grill comes with a new feel and a unique menu. Pappas, a Red Seal chef, who also operates Stavro’s Restaurant, says he worked hard on the new menu, balancing simplicity, as well as variety. It offers a full pub fare menu and is open for lunch and dinner.
    The restaurant opened for the DCHS 10 year reunion on Saturday, September 26 and has been open since. He says many are coming in to check out the new pub and grill, say hi to Peter, Sarah and staff, have a bite to eat and enjoy the setting and good friends. They say things that are vintage never go out of style.

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