PARRSBORO – Some of the world’s most famous fossil discoveries have been made in Parrsboro by Eldon George, but some fear the future of the collection could lie outside the community.
Robert Grantham, chair of the Gesner Institute Society, said they would like to see the George collection preserved in Parrsboro, preferably in a new wing at Fundy Geological Museum. But he said they are not receiving the necessary co-operation from the museum’s parent organization, the Cumberland Geological Society, to make that dream a reality.
“Since our first AGM (annual general meeting), August, 2011, the Gesner Institute Society has been striving to secure local support in order to create a solid foundation from which to save the collection,” said Grantham, in a report to the society’s board of directors at its AGM on Dec. 8, 2012. “We have been experiencing exceptionally frustrating delays caused by external forces.”
Formed in 2010 to serve as a steward for private fossil and mineral collections, particularly the George collection, the Gesner society has been unsuccessful in raising enough funds to purchase the collection.
Grantham, a former curator of geology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, said the George collection is internationally significant, containing the world’s smallest dinosaur footprints, rare fossilized insects and many specimens that have yet to be studied. He valued the collection at $200,000.
A letter of intent from the Gesner society to purchase the Eldon and Elaine George Memorial Collection has expired, freeing George to sell the collection to whomever he wishes, according to Grantham, who said Acadia University has already expressed interest.
What is needed, he said, is a joint effort by the Gesner society and the Cumberland Geological Society to convince potential funding parties that the community is behind the effort. The Gesner society has requested the formation of a joint committee to explore the possibility of a new wing at Fundy Geological Museum to include the purchase and care of the George collection.
The request for a joint committee was turned down by the Cumberland Geological Society, although it did send a letter supporting the Gesner institute’s efforts to purchase the collection. The letter did not, however, did not support the vision and mission of the Gesner society, as requested.
This back and forth has taken place over the course of several months, and Grantham said he fears time is quickly running out.
“I hope there’s a resolution that can be found,” he said. “It’s such an important thing, and such a great thing for the region.”
Cumberland Geological Society chairman Karen Dickinson said she was not comfortable discussing the matter in the media, but said they are continuing to have meetings with the Gesner society, and have another one planned in January.
“I’m uncomfortable with what they have done and what they have said, and until my board is ready to meet, and the two boards are meeting together, I think it best be left alone right now,” she said. “We’re concerned, and we’re trying to settle this quietly. We’re a small town, and it’s just not a very comfortable situation.”
Dickinson added that Fundy Geological Museum falls under the wing of the Nova Scotia Museum, which also has to be involved with any decisions made on this.