Pembroke, ON (September 1, 2011) – Have you heard of the Dr. Wilson Collection? Did you know that it’s a key part of the rock and mineral holdings of the Perth Museum in Perth, ON? The answer to those questions is very likely “no”, because this Collection has been lost and forgotten for many years in a dusty basement storage room, in desperate need of restoration. The Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) is pleased to be providing support, as part of their Recreational Geology Project, to help restore this historic collection to its former glory and return it to a condition where it can be placed back on display for the benefit of the public.
“Our geological assets are an important but often overlooked part of our cultural heritage,” according to Michael Bainbridge, Recreational Geology Project Coordinator for the OHTO. “”It’s our landscape that defines our culture. It’s our geology that defines our landscape. Restoring this collection will allow local residents and visitors to gain insight into this unique aspect of our region.” This Collection was among the leading geological collections of Canada, of great significance through the 1930s. It was accumulated by Dr. James Wilson of Perth – the first amateur mineralogolist and geologist in Upper Canada and the discoverer of many new minerals (for example, wilsonite and perthite) and of some of the oldest known traces of animal life in rocks (climatihnites wilsoni) – and contains several rare and beautiful specimens.
Part of the OHTO’s support of the Collection was a 2-day event on August 27-28, where volunteers from both the amateur and professional mineralogical community assisted to help get the Collection cleaned up, sorted out, and looking its best. Volunteers included Bob Beckett , Past President of the Central Canadian Federation of Mineralogical Societies; Wendy Melanson, Curator of the Bancroft Mineral Museum; George Thompson, specimen mineralogy specialist; Lois Hardy, non-practicing Geologist; Al Donaldson, retired Carleton U Professor of Geoscience and founder of the Ottawa/Gatineau Geoheritage Project; Debbie Sproule, Perth Museum Staff; and Karen Rennie, Heritage Manager and Curator for the Town of Perth. The work was dirty, menial, and seemingly never ending, but the team made tremendous progress, and they achieved exactly what they had set out to do: identify and preserve the most significant parts of the Collection.
Work on the Collection is ongoing. When completed, this rediscovered and restored Collection will be available to visitors and local residents alike in the new Rock and Mineral Gallery at the Perth Museum. This is one of the many exciting projects that the OHTO has been working on to develop recreational geology in Ontario’s Highlands and to increase tourism to the region. There are undoubtedly more hidden gems like the Dr. Wilson Collection waiting to be discovered. If you know of one that you would like to share, please contact ac.otho]ta[ygoloeg.
The OHTO is a not-for-profit organization mandated by the Province of Ontario to increase tourism within the counties of Haliburton, Lanark, and Renfrew and portions of Frontenac, Hastings, and Lennox and Addington. The OHTO works in collaboration with eight sub-regional marketing organizations, tourism agencies and authorities including: Algonquin Nation, Bancroft & District Chamber of Commerce, ComfortCountry.ca, Haliburton Highlands, Lanark County Tourism, Land O' Lakes Tourist Association, Ottawa Valley Tourist Association, and the Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association. Find out more about the OHTO at http://www.ohto.ca
For more information, please contact Michael Bainbridge, Recreational Geology Project Coordinator, at ac.otho]ta[ygoloeg