Adams to retire after 20 years at Fundy Geological Museum

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Farewell/anniversary celebration to be held Dec. 5

ATHOL – After 20 years of operation, Fundy Geological Museum will soon have to do without its most familiar face.
Ken Adams, the museum’s curator and manager, is retiring from the post that he has held since the facility opened its doors in 1993.
Now at the age of 61, Adams said he felt it was time to step aside.

Fundy Geological Museum curator Ken Adams is retiring from the role after 20 years. A celebration of that anniversary and a farewell to Adams will be held at the museum on Dec. 5, from 1-4 p.m.

“It would be nice to get out and do more things with my wife and family, and pursue some interests,” he said. “I will still have a certain amount of interest with what goes on at the museum, particularly with fossil projects, and the rising sea level. So there are things to keep me occupied.”

He and wife Etta are also working on genealogical research into the area, particularly in the neighbourhood where they live in Athol. With help from a 1931 aerial photograph, they are trying to piece together who the inhabitants of the area were at that time.

With daughter Sarah off to college, the couple also like to spend time traveling the Parrsboro shore, making stops at places like Apple River and West Bay to investigate the fossils and the birds. He has been doing this type of thing through his role at the museum for years, but now he plans to do it at his own pace.

Adams began studying geology at Mount Allison University in 1969, and later completed his education at Acadia University. During this time he worked for various mining companies during the summers, as well as the departments of natural resources, mines and energy in New Brunswick.

Upon graduating from Acadia, he walked into a job with an asbestos corporation in Thetford Mines, Que., which was looking for people to work in field projects in Newfoundland. Hel later returned to Nova Scotia, working on numerous gold projects during the 1980s in areas such as Guysborough and Halifax. As that activity wound down, he found himself without a job, he returned home in 1989.

Around this time, steps were being taken to build a new museum in Cumberland County, one that would capitalize on the area’s rich geological history and its significant fossil discoveries. That project would become Fundy Geological Museum, and Adams became active as a volunteer on a number of its planning committees, and eventually hired as its first curator.

The area was not new to the young geologist, who had family ties here, as well as well as several visits as a student.

“At Mount A, the first thing they do is haul you out on a field trip to Joggins for a morning walk, then a bus trip over the Ice Age features like the Boars Back, the ‘basket of eggs’ topography through Lakelands, and then you get dropped off at Swan Creek for a walk around Clark Head,” said Adams.

Clark Head not only interested Adams because of its variety of rock types, and its dramatic evidence of folding and faulting, but also mixed in amongst those rocks were the fossils he worked on as part of his Masters degree.

Over the years, whether it was as a student, as a mining company employee, or just as a visitor, he always came back to the area.

“Whether genealogical or geological, I have deep roots here,” said Adams. “There has to be something in there that keeps bringing me back.”

During the past 20 years, he has worked hard sharing his knowledge, as well as pushing the museum and the entire Cumberland County area to meet its tourism potential. He has also continued to learn, and plans to go on learning after his retirement.

“This isn’t the end of that for me,” he said. “In some ways I have the opportunity now to spend more time looking. We spend a lot of time walking the shores along the river here, and rarely a day goes by that I don’t see something that makes me say ‘wow’.”

Adams will be remembered for his hard work at the museum, particularly for his role in the $1 million overhaul of its gallery in 2010.

“Ken has always believed the museum has a story to tell, and, when that story needed a new, fresh background, he was the leader in ensuring it happened,” said Cumberland Geological Society president Karen Dickinson. “The gallery renewal was a high point of his time with the museum and his input remained the constant throughout its planning, ensuring that it remains a welcoming member of the community.”

But his efforts in promoting this region of the world have gone far beyond the walls of Fundy Geological Museum. In 2011 he was awarded for his efforts by the Central Nova Tourist Association with its President’s Award, and his involvement with organizations such as the Cumberland County Heritage Network have been well regarded. He has also been a key organizer in the conferences that have examined the issue of rising sea levels.

Oralee O’Byrne, who has worked with Adams on the heritage network, said his passion for the betterment of the area is infectious.

“Ken has been a driving force in the museum industry and in getting heritage groups to work together to promote each other,” she said. “The work he has done with statistics has helped to truly impact the tourism industry and educate all of us involved.”

Seeing so many local young people come through the doors of the museum, whether as part of visiting school groups or as summer employees, has been one of the most satisfying aspects of the job for Adams, who said he hopes it gave them an appreciation for what we have in this region.

For whatever reason, he said more and more Nova Scotians are vacationing closer to home, and he hopes that trend reflects that same appreciation.

“Nova Scotians have had to look in their own backyard,” said Adams. “Maybe we’ve realized that we have something pretty special.”

There will be a celebration of both the museum’s 20th anniversary and Adams’ retirement at the museum on Dec. 5, from 1-4 p.m.

awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Fundy Geological Museum, Mount Allison University, Acadia University Cumberland Geological Society Central Nova Tourist Association Cumberland County Heritage Network

Geographic location: Athol, Cumberland County, Parrsboro Apple River West Bay New Brunswick Acadia Thetford Mines Newfoundland Nova Scotia Guysborough Halifax Joggins Swan Creek Nova Scotians

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