Day 43 Eastend, Saskatchewan: The Thin Red Line - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

June 12, 2011

Day 43 Eastend, Saskatchewan: The Thin Red Line

The "Redcoat Trail" was an advertising ploy based on historical reality. The redcoat symbol used on the road signs dates from about 1989. It does seem that since the "Thin Red Line" has become thinner, with not a lot of tourist support, and road quality declining rather than improving. However the crazy thing is that this IS a real SOMETHING, and not just a tourism scheme now forgotten.

The Thin Red Line we are trying to follow
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Here in Eastend, where we have decided to stay an extra day, we have found what does exist in other small towns - a cohesive community made up of friendly and decent people. We can ride our bikes down the wrong side of the road without fear (because any drivers will watch out for us) and we can park and leave them anywhere (because no one would interfere with them, unless maybe they thought they ought to move them out of the rain).

This blog entry is being written from a room in the Riverside Motel, but not because we are staying here (we are at the town campground). Rather we ran into one of the motel owners at the Museum and asked about sources of wifi. He sent us over to the motel, instructing us on where to find a key to a room and what the router code is. So thanks to true small town spirit, here we are online.

In case you missed it, that's the Riverside Motel in Eastend. The rooms are very nice and if you did come with a bike, access is easy.

The Riverside Motel
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"Our" room
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More of "our" room
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We started the day with breakfast at Jack's, where of course we answered the UQ's. Everyone in the room seemed to be breakfasting "together", although in Canadian style no one was engaging anyone else in a very active way.

We join the locals for breakfast at Jack's
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Dodie talks about the old days outside Jack's
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Our next step was the T Rex Discovery Centre. The description of Eastend so far is admirable, but it's one we have made for quite a few small towns already. This part of the Redcoat Trail begins to earn the really something designation when you see that it is a World Centre so far as paleontology goes.

Corky Jones is a major figure here, who beginning in 1898 began to collect fossils from the region. His collection was extensive, and pieces found their way to major collections in other cities. Things really heated up when in the early 1990s what turned out to be a 60% complete T Rex was was discovered southeast of here. There are only 12 T Rex sites in the world and only one is more complete (slightly) than this one.

The community insisted that (unlike Egyptian artifacts taken to the British Museum) the find should remain here. The result was the construction of the T. Rex centre. The Centre is dug into a hillside, which seems very appropriate. The displays are well done, and there is a guided tour. Our guide's name was Amelia, making her an instant hit! There is also a very dramatic film, describing this as the Valley of Hidden Treasures. Guess what, this is not hype, this place IS amazing.

The T Rex Centre is dug into the hillside over the Frenchman River
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Centre play equipment
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Self portrait in the reflective glazing
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These Saskatoons would be pretty authentic
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Gift shop motto (look it up!)
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Amelia gives the tour
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Roar!
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Dramatic movie about the dinosaur hunters
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Royal Sask Museum workshop on site. Real scientists work here.
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RSM shelving
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RSM specimen
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A Brontothere
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The K-T boundary is a geological signature, usually a thin band, dated to (65.5 ± 0.3) Ma (megaannum, or million years ago).[1] K is the traditional abbreviation for the Cretaceous period, and T is the abbreviation for the Tertiary period. The boundary marks the end of the Mesozoic era and the beginning of the Cenozoic era, and is associated with the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, a mass extinction
This sample is from right here!
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Centre overview
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Great as the T.Rex centre is, I was a little disappointed that most of the displays are replicas, with the real stuff hidden somewhere in the basement. Also, although they are working on it, the T Rex skeleton is not on display as a replica or otherwise.

More impressive is the Eastend Museum. This is where the original collection of Corky Jones is housed. Here are the real fossils, in what looks like a real museum. What's more, the museum also covers the pioneer life of the town, and includes three rooms of an original farm house, plus a school room and an implement shed. We were guided around this by John Hanlin. John was born here, left for work, and has now returned. John had personal knowledge of many of the people described in the displays, and so made an excellent guide. John spent a least two hours with us. He could amplify on most of the descriptive plaques, and in a quiet way would have to be recognized as an expert. Only our absorptive capacity and not John's knowledge or patience limited our stay to two hours.

The real thing - a display from the Eastend Museum
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Part of the Eastend Museum
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Eastend Museum
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Eastend Museum
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John Hanlin explains a locally made telescope to Dodie
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The telescope story
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Hair curler!
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An early Maytag washer. This is a two stroke gas engine!
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The complete washer
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On site farmhouse
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On site farmhouse II
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The stories of the pioneers are poignant
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School room
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1949 wedding dress
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Pre 1930 truck
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Steam tractor
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Tomorrow we will find out what else the Thin Red Line has to offer. But this day spent in Eastend was definitely worth it.

An Eastend street
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