PARRSBORO, N.S. – When he was a boy Eldon George walked the beach in Parrsboro looking for fossils to add to his collection.
Little did he know his discoveries would put Parrsboro on the map as a geological hub and the future home of the Fundy Geological Centre and the annual Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show.
George died Nov. 29. He was 87.
“He made an amazing contribution to science and his community. For someone who never went to university or college and picked his up as a hobby, his contribution is amazing. We wouldn’t have the museum without him or the rock and mineral show,” Rod Tyson, president of the Cumberland Geological Society said Sunday.
George suffered a traumatic injury to his arm as a young boy and his mother urged him to paint and collect shells that he found on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. At age nine he found a fossil on the beach at Parrsboro, beginning what would be a lifelong passion and would result in international recognition as well as the Order of Nova Scotia in 2013.
Also, along with Joggins’ Don Reid, who died in 2016, George was recognized by the Atlantic Geoscience Society with the Laing Ferguson Award for lifetime achievement in 2015
“The recognition he got, such as being featured in National Geographic magazine, is not something everyone got,” said Tyson. “He made a huge difference in the geology landscape of Canada. There’s no other place I can point to that has this reputation and that’s because of his lifetime work of running a rock shop here.”
Tim Fedak, the interim curator of geology for the Nova Scotia Museum and former curator of the Fundy Geological Centre, considered George a good friend. He said George had a “long and lasting impact” on his community.
“He made a tremendous contribution by finding fossils but also in promoting minerals as well and the mineral wealth that’s down along that shore,” Fedak said, adding the real turning point for George was being featured in National Geographic in 1957. “It was important timing too because the coal train from the Springhill mine would stop in 1958 and Parrsboro underwent a big change and Eldon started promoting tourism and the importance of minerals and fossils.”
George was also key in promoting the creation of Nova Scotia’s official mineral – stilbite - and agate as the official gemstone.
“Eldon was lifelong learner driving by his passion and his curiosity,” Fedak said. “He did a lot of research and kept notes and diagrams instead of just gathering pretty rocks.”
Over more than 75 years, George would make several world-famous fossil finds – including the world’s smallest dinosaur footprints and numerous rare insect, amphibians and fish.
"I've spent my whole lifetime doing this, and I never ever looked back," George told the Amherst News in 2013 when he was named to the Order of Nova Scotia. "I always looked ahead, and never asked anybody for anything. I've never asked for any help, any money, or any recognition."
All of his famous finds have come in the Parrsboro area, and his internationally recognized efforts have helped put Parrsboro on the map. Perhaps most famous among his discoveries are the world's smallest dinosaur footprints that he unearthed in the 1980s.
His most recent find was the discovery of a prehistoric dragonfly-like insect called stenodictya that he found about eight years ago.
These discoveries were part of his personal collection at the Parrsboro Rock and Mineral Shop – a collection that was donated to the Fundy Geological Museum in 2015.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.