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Report 1739: Six Weeks in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC where English Tourists Donít Get to....

By Eleanor from England, Summer 2009

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Page 4 of 9: Alberta Badlands

photo by Eleanor

Hoodoos - Pillars Protected by Resistant Cap Rock

Having got to Medicine Hat earlier than expected we decided to visit the Historic Clay District. This is by guided tour and we were the only people on the tour. The guide was young and only employed for the summer. She had learned all the history but was stumped when we started asking questions as she hadnít got the depth of knowledge, or interest in the subject. We felt it was just a job. We were disappointed by the remains - there arenít all that many to see, so you need a good dose of imagination. The display of the pottery they made was interesting.

We then headed for the Alberta Badlands. We stopped to have a look at the Brooks Aqueduct on the way. This was fascinating. Again we were the only people there and spent a long time talking to one of the curators who was obviously enthused by the structure. Even now it is an amazing site as it sweeps across the countryside. You can still see the irrigation channels as you drive along. In its time it must have been truly amazing. I hadnít realised the role of the railway companies in irrigation projects.

Then it was Dinosaur Provincial Park. The view from the top car park before you drop down into the canyon across the badlands is awesome. We hadnít booked for any of the guided walks so just did the drive around the public loop road and the trails off it. This took half a day and we felt it gave us a good introduction to the park. We liked the in situ display of dinosaur bones waiting to be excavated.

It was then onto Drumheller for a couple of nights as we wanted to do the two self guided drives. We had stopped to look at the Hoodoos on the way in and had a quick look at the outside of Atlas Coal Mine to see the giant tippler. We didnít have time to go back and spend longer there. We didnít bother with East Coulee school as we had already seen quite a few one room schools at various times around Saskatchewan.

We did the Dinosaur Trail anticlockwise and thought the scenery and views on the way out along the east side of the canyon better than those back along the west side. We were disappointed by Midlands Coal mining site. Again there was very little left and needed a lot of imagination. The Bleriot Ferry was great fun and well worth the trip.

We had read great things about the Royal Tyrell Museum and were expecting a lot. We appreciated the long opening hours, which meant we could visit late afternoon and still have plenty of time. The dinosaur skeletons were stupendous but to be honest we were disappointed by the rest of the exhibits. The Burgess Fossil bed animals are certainly different and like something from a science fiction movie. Unfortunately the touch screens for these werenít working. We felt the displays on continental drift and Darwin and evolution were superficial. The cretaceous garden was looking unkempt and in need of attention. We were too late to see the workshops at work. The shop was aimed at the kids with lots of toy dinosaurs, tee shirts etc. but little for the serious student. We felt this was a major failing for a museum of its reputation.

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