Category Archives: CANADA

Tons of Giant Nephrite Jade Discovered in Canada

Tons of Giant Nephrite Jade Discovered in Canada

In many colors jade is found in black, blue, orange, brown, cream, gold, white and lavender. The different types of jade include jadeite and nephrite.

Nephrite is tougher and harder to break than jadeite material. The Polar Pride boulder was called the find of the millennium by trade experts and was discovered in Canada. The 18-ton boulder was split in half to be used for carving.

Jade was first identified in Canada by the Chinese settlers in 1886 in British Columbia, Canada. At this time jade was considered to be worthless as they were searching for gold.

Jade was not a commercialized stone in Canada until the 1970s. Commercial mining of Canadian jade began in 1972, by two Californians who started the mining business Loex James Ltd.

There are over fifty known nephrite occurrences found in British Columbia. These occurrences are located in Southern British Columbia, the Cassiar, Cry and Dease Lake, and Mount Ogden areas.

These nephrite occurrences consist of individual blocks, talus blocks, boulder fields, and in situ occurrences. Most of the nephrite in situ occurrences are lens-shaped or cigar-shaped.

Nephrite in British Columbia.

Until the 1960s, almost all of the nephrite that was produced in British Columbia came from secondary deposits. With the rapid expansion of the amateur lapidary activity after World War II, production in the jade fields of British Columbia’s picked up, and they became the most important suppliers.

Around the same time, markets opened up in the Orient and Germany. Mining activity for Nephrite gradually depleted the secondary deposits, but increasing the values of the stone led to further exploration.

These efforts uncovered primary deposits of jade adjacent to the Fraser River in southern British Columbia, the Mount Ogden area of central British Columbia and the Cassiar jade fields in the far north of the province. Today, British Columbia is the main supplier for the Chinese market of Nephrite.

Nephrite mining in the province of British Columbia is very challenging. Winters are typically long and extremely cold, and deposits of Nephrite are remote, so mining can only happen during the shorter summer season, which is only about 60 days a year.

Nephrite Mined In British Columbia Canada

Almost all of the secondary deposits of jade are exhausted, so current mining is almost always from primary deposits. Transporting the heavy equipment to the jade mining sites is backbreaking work.

Jade West uses its diamond-coated circular, wire saws and modern high-pressure hydraulic splitters to remove the nephrite boulders from the mountain and saw them into pieces of a manageable size.

Nephrite’s toughness makes it an extremely difficult stone to break out of the rock. While blasting the Nephrite had been used in the past, Jade West no longer uses explosives.

Nephrite deposits range in size from 12 inches to 12 feet wide. The wider deposits of jade are very challenging to the quarry.

Nephrite boulders on the surface can sometimes reach weights of about 200 tons and are rarely under 100 pounds, but Jade West tries to limit the overall weight of its jade Nephrite boulders to five tons, which is a good size for them to mine, handle, and then transport on trucks to the nearest town, which is about 100 miles away.

The average weight of Nephrite is two tons, a size that satisfies most of the carving factories in China.

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge

A bustling pipe-making district at the intersection of four Montreal neighborhoods catered to Canadians in need of a tobacco fix, during the 19th Century.

The leading Henderson pipe plant manufactured millions of pipes each year was one of the manufacturers operating in the area.

According to Max Harrold of CTV News, a key component of the factory operations was discovered by archaeologists: a “massive” kiln where Henderson clay pipes were fired before being sold to smokers.

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge
A massive pipe kiln from the Henderson factory, unearthed by archaeologists.

The team discovered the kiln beneath the Jacques Cartier Bridge, a now-iconic landmark that connects Montreal and the city of Longueuil while conducting survey work prior to the installation of a drainage system near piers on the Montreal side of the bridge.

Per a press release from Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), archaeologists embarked on the dig with the specific goal of locating the Henderson kiln.

Historic maps confirmed that the team’s chosen dig spot was once the site of the Henderson factory and even identified the location of a kiln spanning between 16 and 19 feet in diameter.

Hundreds of pipes have previously been found in the area, many of them stamped with the “Henderson/Montreal” label—another sign that the kiln was hiding nearby.

“We knew we’d come across it this time around,” archaeologist Christian Roy tells Jessica Leigh Hester of Atlas Obscura.

The kiln had been largely demolished, but Roy says the excavation team found chambers “through which the air would flow into the oven,” along with “other openings where they could put charcoal in to heat up the kiln.”

Archaeologists suspect the structure dates to sometime between 1847 and 1892. According to JCCBI, which spearheaded the dig, the kiln may have been rebuilt while still in operation, as “this type of equipment required regular maintenance and repairs.”

Pipes found on land near the kiln

Tobacco smoking was a fashionable habit in centuries past: To capitalize on the trend, companies in Europe and North America produced an array of pipes made from such materials as wood, porcelain, clay, and plaster.

Irish immigrants who flocked to Canada to escape the Great Famine of the 1840s may have sparked Montreal’s pipe-making craze. Prior to their arrival, the city “had little if any prior history of pipe making,” explains the late Iain Walker, a leading clay pipe researcher. “Irish immigrants were forced to make their own pipes.”

The Henderson factory was founded in 1847 by a Scotsman named William Henderson Sr. His company manufactured clay pipes engraved with delicate fruits, flowers, and other designs.

Clay tobacco pipes were fragile but cheap and are among “the most commonly-found [artifacts] on colonial and post-colonial settlements in Canada,” Walker explained in a 1970 paper.

Cigarettes, Walker added, “did not become the most popular means of taking tobacco in Great Britain and the United States until the end of the First World War.”

Henderson’s factory was a thriving business. It processed between 225 and 300 tons of clay each year, according to JCCBI, and by 1871, the company was producing some seven million pipes annually. Most of the people who worked in the factory were Scottish and Irish immigrants.

Henderson’s grandsons, known as the Dixon brothers, took over the factory in 1876. By the 1980s, reports Hester, the factory’s operations were winding down, and in the 1920s, the land was razed to make way for the new bridge.

The newly unearthed kiln will soon be reburied; exposing it to the harsh Canadian winter would result in its destruction, and the structure is too fragile to relocate. Roy tells Hester that an interpretive plaque may be added to the site in a nod to Montreal’s history as a prominent center of Canada’s pipe-making industry.

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

A heavy equipment company began mining a strange colored stone at Millennium Mine in northern Alberta in 2011.

His supervisor quickly realized that they had something special, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. He stopped looking more closely and puzzled the material, which had strange patterns.

A little fossilized skin had recently been extracted from an armored nodosaur, a kind of ankylosaur. Nevertheless, this was not just a fossil; it was one of the best-preserved specimens of nodasaurus ever discovered.

The fossil remains are incredibly lifelike, resembling a sleeping dragon.

According to National Geographic, which sponsored the five-year, 7,000-hour preparation of the fossil, it’s likely that the 3,000-pound,18-foot-long creature died in or near a river. Then its bloated carcass floated out to sea before sinking back-first into the muck where fossilization began.

“It’s basically a dinosaur mummy—it really is exceptional,” Don Brinkman, director of preservation and research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum where the fossil is housed tells Craig S. Smith at The New York Times.

The remarkable preservation of its armored plates, as well as some preserved scales, are helping paleontologists finally understand the size and shape of the creature’s keratin defenses.

“I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta stone for armor,” Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Tyrrell Museum tells Greshko.

The nodasaurus fossil on display (Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Canada)
The nodosaur has been described by some scientists as the “rhinoceros of its day.”

As Matt Rehbein at CNN reports, the dino is 110 million years old, making it the oldest ever found in Alberta. It also represents a new genus and species of nodosaur. But the most exciting aspect may be at the microscopic level, Greshko reports.

The researchers have detected miniscule bits of red pigment, which could help them reconstruct the dinosaur’s coloration—a feature that may have helped it attract mates.

“This armor was clearly providing protection, but those elaborated horns on the front of its body would have been almost like a billboard,” Jakob Vinther, an animal coloration expert from the University of Bristol who has studied the fossil, tells Greshko.

The new specimen isn’t the only exceptional ankylosaur specimen recently unveiled. Just last week Brian Switek at Smithsonian.com reported that the Royal Ontario Museum discovered a new species in Montana, which they nicknamed Zuul. That specimen also has some intact armor plates and skin as well as a tail club.

Switek explains that during decomposition the armor plates of ankylosaurs typically fall off and are often washed away or not found.

But the discovery of these two extraordinary samples will go a long way towards helping researchers figure just what these animals looked like and how they used their formidable horns and armor.

The nodosaurus is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, as part of an exhibit highlighting the importance of cooperation between extraction industries and paleontologists in uncovering fossils.

A student found an ancient Canadian village that’s 10,000 years older than the Pyramids

A student found an ancient Canadian village that’s 10,000 years older than the Pyramids

An ancients village dating back to before the Pyramids era was discovered by a team from Canadian Ph.D. students.

CTV reports that a team of students from the University of Victoria’s archeology department has uncovered the oldest settlement in North America.

This ancient village was discovered when researchers were searching Triquet Island, an island located about 300 miles north of Victoria, British Columbia.

The team found ancient fish hooks and spears, as well as tools for making fires.

However, they really hit the jackpot when they found an ancient cooking hearth, from which they were able to obtain flakes of charcoal burnt by prehistoric Canadians.

Using carbon dating on the charcoal flakes, the researchers were able to determine that the settlement dates back 14,000 years ago, making it significantly older than the pyramids of Ancient Egypt, which were built about 4,700 years ago.

To understand how old that truly is, one has to consider that the ancient ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra lived closer in time to you than she did to the creation of the pyramids.

Even to what we consider ancient people, the Egyptian pyramids were quite old.

This newly discovered settlement dates back more than three times older than the pyramids.

Alisha Gauvreau, a Ph.D. student who helped discover this site said, “I remember when we got the dates back, and we just sat back and said, ‘Holy moly, this is old.’”

She and her team began investigating the area for ancient settlements after hearing the oral history of the indigenous Heiltsuk people, which told of a sliver of land that never froze during the last ice age.

William Housty, a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, said, “To think about how these stories survived only to be supported by this archeological evidence is just amazing.”

“This find is very important because it reaffirms a lot of the history that our people have been talking about for thousands of years.”

Researchers believe that this settlement indicates a mass human migration down the coast of British Columbia.

“What this is doing, is changing our idea of the way in which North America was first peopled, said Gauvreau.”

The students hope to continue to search nearby islands for more evidence of this migration.

Why an Unearthed, Ancient Clambake May Change Indigenous Fortunes in BC

One day between five and ten centuries ago, people living on what is now known as Keith Island finished eating a geoduck clam and placed its shell neatly alongside others.

The implications of that moment — brought to light this month by archeologists — loom large for Indigenous nations pursuing the right to harvest and sell geoduck clams on their territories in British Columbia. rest of the Article read at “thetyee.ca