Celebrating Bridges, Bones and Bickells

It’s risky business holding an outdoor event in mid-March in northern Alberta. The Focus engineers even had a table full of warm tuques ready just in case.

Happily, it turns out that even the sun itself is a supporter of the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative. On March 17, when the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta arrived to cut the ribbon at the new bridge to the bonebed, sunlight was positively beaming down on the crowd.

Those beams were matched by the smiles in the crowd. One dignitary, when he later saw the pictures, asked, “Don’t you have any where I look official, instead of with a big smile all the time?”

His Honour, the Honourable Donald S. Ethell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and Her Honour Linda Ethell, arrived at the Pipestone Creek bonebed to mark the latest major milestone. Phase One – the two bridges and road to the dinosaur bonebed – is complete and it was time to celebrate. Hosted by the County of Grande Prairie No. 1, supporters from all over the Peace Country attended, including representatives fromlocal municipal governments and the Rural Alberta Development Fund (RADF), with letters of support read out from Chris Warkentin, MP for Peace River, Wayne Drysdale, MLA for Grande Prairie-Wapiti and other notables.

Attending the event was a great way to explore a new part of Alberta, said the Lieutenant Governor in his speech. “There are already so many things that make this area a great place to live and to visit and developing the rich palaeontological resources it has to offer will only enhance that reputation.”

The naming of the second bridge was a special moment. Roy Bickell has been a self-described ‘fossil guy’ since the 1960s when he found his first hunk of petrified wood near Cutbank River. Since then he has amassed thousands of fossils and become an advocate for the rich local resources. He consistently donates his time, fossils and knowledge to the region. Roy even gave a unique gift to the Lieutenant Governor – a 400 million-year-old fossilized sponge.

During the naming ceremony, Roy stood with his wife Noreen before the crowd as His Honour announced, to great applause, “This bridge will hereafter be known as the Bickell Bridge.” When Roy was asked later if he’d had a good day, he replied, “The best day.”