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L.A. Beat

Café Galt examines living history at Wally’s Beach

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The Galt Museum has lined up some fascinating programs to support their brand new exhibit on Southern Alberta dinosaurs, beginning with the first Café Galt presentation this Wednesday (Oct. 21) featuring Cardston teacher Shayne Tolman.
Tolman discovered the Wally’s Beach  archeological site in the lake bed of  St. Mary Reservoir, located just outside of Lethbridge while on a family outing in 1996.
In doing so, he uncovered a veritable treasure trove of fossils and  archaeological knowledge.
“They have uncovered some incredible stuff there,” Tolman enthused.
“Every time the wind blows, it uncovers something new,”  Tolman said, who has been exploring the site for 11 years. There are all kinds of rare, one-of-a-kind fossils as well as woolly mammoth, camel  and saber tooth tiger tracks.
“Those are just in the dirt, they aren’t fossilized. Because of the wind, there  are  layers up on layers of them.
 And that’s living history, when you look at bones, that’s dead history, if you can call it that, but here you can actually see how the animals interacted with each other,” he said, emphasizing it is illegal to explore and remove artifacts from sites without  the proper permits.
“And you can see human tracks  interacting with these extinct animals,” he said adding a couple years ago, some high school students were recruited to help create a 80  square metre cast of some of these tracks.
“That’s a story in itself,” he said adding he will be speaking about  the background, discovery and scientific investigation of one of North America’s most significant prehistorical sites.
“ It’s great to get these students  involved  in local heritage, not just archeology or paleontology,” he said. Because  the site is so fragile, the only time Tolman can explore it is during the winter and that’s only when it isn’t covered with snow.

Tolman was born and raised in Hill Spring, Alberta.  After completing his Bachelor of Education at the University of Lethbridge, he landed a teaching career with the Westwind School Division in Cardston where he has taught for the past 23 years.
Following the discovery at Wally's Beach, Shayne completed a Master of Science focused on archaeology with the University of Calgary Department of Resources and the Environment in 2001 under the direction of Dr. Hills. Over the past decade, The Wally’s Beach site has yielded jaw-dropping discoveries which are changing how we view our prehistoric past, including extinct animal remains such as mammoth, horse, muskoxen, camel and, most recently, sabre-tooth cat.  Tolman's presentation also details a new initiative probing rural communities for skills that can be a contribution to the recovery of untapped local prehistorical and historical assets.  The three-year project explores methods of recovery, presentation, and interpretation of various locally recovered fossils. The exhibit opens at 6 p.m. with the presentation beginning at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
Wally's Beach is the first of four Café Galt programs exploring themes in the related exhibit Dinosaurs & Company on display at the Galt Museum & Archives until Jan. 31.  Café Galt is free with admission and for annual pass holders, and includes refreshments and exhibit access.  Upcoming topics include "Mega Extinction"with Chrissy Foreman [November 4], "Alberta Dinosaurs" with Wendy Sloboda [December
9], and "The Lost World: Behind the Scenes & on the Screen" with Cory Gross [January
20].  For details visit , call 403.320-3954, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor

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