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Fossil Hunting at Transcona Museum

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

Did you know, that the Transcona Museum's building is an artifact in and of itself? It is a designated a Class III Historic Building by the City of Winnipeg. This means that the exterior of the building is protected and cannot be changed without filing the appropriate paperwork and approval. We are one of two buildings in Transcona that have been blessed with this distinction, the other being the Blais House on Victoria Ave. East. We were given this designation on July 4, 1980.

TM Archives,

Our building's history is quite modest compared to others but it is something that we are quite proud of. It was designed in 1914 by a local architect, Major George W. Northwood (1876-1959), based on standard branch office plans, and built in 1924-25. It was the Bank of Toronto's second home from 1924 to 1941.

The building's foundation and the heavy arched doorway were made from Tyndall Stone®, a type of limestone. Tyndall limestone is quarried in Garson, Manitoba by the Gillis Quarries, Ltd. It has been quarried by the same family for many years! Tyndall Stone® was first discovered in 1828 by Major Long of the Hudson's Bay Company. He saw the limestone exposed along the banks of the Red River near Selkirk. The unique mottled appearance of the rock drew his attention and it was used to build the walls and the warehouses of the Lower Fort Garry in 1832. The Manitoba Legislative building also features Tyndall Stone®. Canada is the only source of this unique stone! An interesting fact to note is that farmer John Gunn, around 1894, found a deposit of this limestone while digging for a well on his property. It was known that he did lease his land to other companies on royalty but, it is not known if he himself quarried for the rocks.

Limestone is a sedimentary mineral formed from the remains of marine animals. This specific type of limestone formed 450 million years ago when Southern Manitoba was part of a warm, shallow inland sea. During this time, this area would have been just south of the equator. Many different sea creatures lived in these warm waters, above the soft muddy seafloor. When they died, their skeletal remains settled on this floor and became a part of it. Their bones made the mud limey and when it hardened, it turned into limestone. Some of these creatures were cephalopods (relatives of the squid and the chambered nautilus), corals sponges, gastropods (snails), crinoids (echinoderms), trilobites (relatives of crabs and insects), brachiopods (lamp shells), clams and algae (plants). Its unique mottled appearance is thought to be caused by shrimp that burrowed into the floor to create shelter and seek food. As animal flesh decays all that's left are the hard parts of their remains, such as their skeletons or their shells. These leave impressions in the rock, which we can still see today!

Here are some of the fossils we can see on our building!

Come down to the Transcona Museum and try to find some fossils, and then come inside to take a look at our current exhibit!



Gray, J.M. Monro, McCracken, A.D., Macey, E., and Nowlan, G.S. Tyndall Stone. Geological Association: Popular Geoscience, 2007. Accessed July 2017.

Company Overview. Gillis Quarries Ltd, 2017. Accessed July 2017.

Historical Buildings Committee. 141 Regent Ave. West: Former Bank of Toronto Building. City of Winnipeg, 2005. Accessed July 2017.

History of Tyndall Stone® and the Quarries. Gillies Quarries Ltd, 2017. Accessed July 2017.

Planning, Property and Development. Municipally Designated Sites in Winnipeg: List of Historical Resources. City of Winnipeg, 2017. Accessed July 2017.

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