Joseph Tyrrell | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Joseph Tyrrell

Joseph Burr Tyrrell, geologist, explorer, historian (born 1 November 1858 in Weston, Canada West; died 26 August 1957 in Toronto, ON). Tyrrell explored the vast areas of western and northern Canada, consolidating information gathered by earlier explorers and filling in blank spots on the maps, especially in the Northwest Territories, while working for 17 years for the Geological Survey of Canada (1881–98).

He explored the Dubawnt and Thelon rivers to Chesterfield Inlet under considerable hardship, discovered the rich dinosaur beds of southern Alberta and important coal beds at Drumheller, Alta, and Fernie, BC, and added knowledge to the geography, botany, entomology, mammalogy and ornithology of many regions. He later became a mining consultant, and then a miner in the Klondike gold rush and in northern Ontario, eventually acquiring considerable wealth.

Highly regarded both in the field and by government officials in Ottawa and Toronto, he was also involved in several historical publications, most notably in editing the diaries of Samuel Hearne and David Thompson. He was president of the Champlain Society and received many honours, including the Royal Society of Canada's Flavelle Gold Medal. Several physical features and at least one community bear his name; the establishment of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology at Drumheller (1985) provides an impressive monument to his discoveries a century earlier.

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