Monthly Archives: February 2023

Royal Ontario Museum – Dinosaurs

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the largest museums in North America and is the largest in Canada. It was established on April 16, 1912 and opened on March 19, 1914 and was initially governed by the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto. It has been expanded a couple of times and now is home to 40 galleries and over 6,000,000 items. In addition to the permanent galleries, it also hosts special exhibitions on a regular basis. Many blogs could be written on the various galleries but as I have been fascinated with fossils and dinosaurs since I was a young boy, I’ve decided to write this initial blog about their dinosaur collection.

Trilobites were among the first marine arthropods (invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton) and flourished for about 270 million years starting around 521 million years ago. There have been over 22,000 species of trilobites discovered so far.

Fossils are formed when living organisms are buried quickly before they have time to decompose. Usually this happens when they are covered with mud, sand or volcanic ash. The soft tissues will often disappear leaving only the skeleton but sometimes even the tissues can be preserved. More sand or mud is deposited on top of the animal or plant and over time this will turn into rock. The bones themselves will turn to stone in a process known as being lithified. Eventually the rock may erode away exposing the fossil.

The first dinosaur fossil was discovered in England in 1672 and was named Megalosaurus, which means Great Lizard in Greek. The species itself wasn’t scientifically named until 1824 when it was originally thought to have walked on all fours like a lizard. Since then, further discoveries have shown that it was a biped and looked similar to a Tyrannosaurus Rex like the one featured on the cover photo. Some fossils are found in a nearly complete format like the one pictured above but this isn’t often the case. Sometimes only a bone or a few pieces of skeleton are found and the Megalosaurus was first identified by just a femur bone. The skeletal head of a Triceratops is featured below and is distinguished by the three horns on the face.

Albertosaurus was a similar species to the Tyrannosaurus Rex but smaller and very limited in range. It appears to have been pretty much restricted to the province of Alberta. It is interesting because since its original discovery in 1884 there have been 30 examples discovered. Of these, 26 were found in one location which suggests pack behaviour. Due to the larger than average number of specimens, it has been possible for Albertosaurus to be studied in greater detail than many other species where there are relatively few examples available.

Sauropods were the largest dinosaurs and Brontosaurus is likely the best known species within the group. These animals had long thin necks and tiny heads as well as long tails. They were herbivores and could reach 22 metres in length and weigh up to 17 tonnes. They lived around 150 million years ago in North America and were discovered in 1879 in Wyoming.

Dinosaurs laid eggs that were often protected by the mother while they were in the nest. In 2021 a fossil was discovered of a dinosaur that was buried while hunched over her nest of 24 eggs. At least seven of those eggs have preserved bones of the partially developed embryos. The museum has an example of dinosaur eggs on display.

We tend to be most familiar with the largest dinosaurs but of nearly 700 species identified most are actually quite small. And, of course, even the big dinosaurs were small when they first hatched. The image below shows the skeleton of a baby Maiasura, whose name means Good Mother in Greek. They were given this name because nests have been found which contained eggs and young animals. This told researchers that the mothers fed the infants in the nest. That was the first evidence of maternal activity in dinosaurs. The fossil below is of an infant which didn’t have the opportunity to grow to the full 9 metre length of an adult.

The world of the dinosaurs could be pretty violent with the large carnivores looking for prey. Some of the herbivores developed various methods of protecting themselves from long sharp horns on the face to bony shields protecting their necks. Stegosaurus grew flat plates along its back that may have prevented Allosaurus from biting it. Four sharp spikes protruded from the end of the tail and this could be swung at predators to convince them to find easier meals elsewhere. Hollywood likes to show this animal fighting off a Tyrannosaurus but in fact they lived millions of years apart and the Stegosaurus had died off before the T-Rex came along. The Stegosaurus had one of the smallest brain to body ratios of any of the dinosaurs but eating plants all day likely didn’t require a lot of thinking.

Dinosaurs first appeared around 245 million years ago and died out about 65 million years ago. During that time they dominated the land, sea and air. There’s a lot of speculation about what killed them off and chances are that we will never know. We are fortunate to have so many fossils available and places like the royal Ontario Museum where we can go to view them and learn about these fascinating creatures.

The Royal Ontario Museum is the type of place that can be visited many times and there will always be something interesting to look at and learn about. The dinosaur exhibit is just one small part of the museum.

Google Maps Link: Royal Ontario Museum

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Turner Chapel

February 19, 2023

Fugitive slaves and other black people began to arrive in Bronte and the Oakville area as early as 1830. The Act Against Slavery had been passed in Upper Canada, later renamed Ontario, in 1793 and was one of the first pieces of anti-slavery legislation in the world. It banned the importation of slaves and allowed children born to female slaves to go free at the age of 25. This meant that slavery would slowly disappear from the province. Britain banned slavery in Canada and other colonies in 1833 but the underground railroad was already in full swing bringing fugitive slaves into Canada. Many of these people ended up in the Oakville area.

One of these former slaves was James Wesley Hill who escaped to Canada inside a packing box and settled on a local farm. Over the next few years he returned to the United States many times and helped an estimated 700-800 African Americans escape to Canada. He offered them temporary work on his strawberry farm while they worked to establish themselves. James was also referred to as “Canada Jim” and he has been honoured by having a local school named after him. The following picture of James Wesley Hill is from the James Wesley Hill school page.

Around 1860 Samuel Adams and his brother in law, Rev. William Butler organized between 300 and 400 former slaves in the area to form a congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. They were able to build a small church on the east side of Sixteen Mile Creek. This church burned down and in 1890 a plot of land was gained on the west side of the creek. Several setbacks occurred and construction didn’t begin until 1891 with the first service being held on Jan. 1, 1892. The side view of the church in the picture below shows the rounded arches of the windows which shunned the pointed arches of the gothic architecture common in churches of the era. The row of bricks turned on an angle under the roof line is the sole form of ornamentation in the brickwork.

The church was named after Bishop Henry McNeal Turner who had been an advocate of the “Back to Africa” movement in the United States. Turner was the first black chaplain appointed by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The church was dedicated as Turner Chapel to honour the bishop. A manse was built in the 1930s to the west of the church to house the pastor of the congregation. The manse can be seen on the right of the picture below which also shows the rear of the church.

Although the cornerstone of the church is dated 1890 it wasn’t laid until 1891. It also has lettering which denotes the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The church was in use until the later part of the twentieth century when the congregation had dispersed to other communities. For awhile the church was leased to an offshoot of the Anglican Church. However, in 2000 the building was put up for sale. Since the Oakville Historical Society has strict guidelines on what can be done with the building, it wasn’t attractive to developers. In 2002 Jed Gardner decided to buy both the church and the manse to house his antique business. The picture below shows the interior of the chapel looking from the rear toward the front of the chapel.

The following picture shows the view from where the pastor used to stand looking toward the entrance. The antique shop is an interesting place to wander around and explore and you just might find something to add to your collection.

The Oakville Historical Society has put a sign on the front of the building to bring attention to the history of the chapel.

Turner Chapel is an important part of the history of the Black Community and the underground railroad in Oakville.

Google Maps Link: Turner Chapel

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Antique Market – Small Arms Building

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The word “antique” is derived from the Latin word “antiquus” which means ancient or old. Some people define an antique as being over 100 years old but it is generally used in a looser definition. It can be used to describe an object which is ascribed value due to a combination of its age and scarcity. The Sunday Antique Market is held one Sunday per month in Mississauga. Many of the items for sale at the antique market are more correctly described as being vintage or collectable. For 31 years, an antique market operated on Sundays at the St. Lawrence Market. It recently has found a new home in the Small Arms Inspection Building in Mississauga. We have written about the Small Arms Testing Site and the Long Branch Rifle Range in earlier blogs and so we won’t cover it again here. Links to those stories will be provided again at the end of this post.

There are lots of old toys available, although most of these would fall into the category of collectables rather than antiques. The character of Batman was first introduced in November 1939 and has been updated many times since then on TV and in films. The action figures below, including the Joker who is laying down, were released in 1966.

There are plenty of vintage and antique cameras for sale at one of the booths. The ones pictured below which fold out of their cases and have extending bellows could be from around 1910.

If you collect coins, currency or even Canadian Tire money it’s a good idea to bring your want list along with you. One dealer has a large collection spread out over several tables and you just might find something to add to your collection.

There are several vendors selling old records. Some of them seem to be reasonably priced but one of the vendors, not shown below, appears to want 2-3 times what everyone else does for his music.

Old tins are another collectable that you can find at the market and there’s many kinds that can be highly sought after. The Whisk hand cleaner tin seen below is from the 1940s.

Aside from jewelry, old china appears to be one of the most common items available at the market. There are many tables with tea cups, saucers and tea pots. some very unique items can be bought to display in your collection.

The antique market is held in the only building that has survived from the manufacturing facility that used to sprawl over the Arsenal Lands. The water tower and some baffles and the back stop from the firing range also survive as part of the history of this site. The image below from Heritage Mississauga shows what the area looked like in 1956.

Admission is free and there’s over 200 free parking places so it makes a great way to spend an afternoon and perhaps find a treasure to add to your collection. Upcoming shows will be held on March 5, 2023, April 2, 2023 and May 14, 2023. Future dates will be posted on their website: sunday antique market

Related Stories: St. Lawrwence Market, Small Arms Testing Site, Long Branch Rifle Range, The Arsenal Lands

Google Maps Link: Small Arms Building

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