Cabinets, Cabinets Everywhere: The Sequel

By Kathlyn Stewart and Michelle Coyne

The story continues of the transfer of some of the National Collections of the Geological Survey of Canada from their home on Booth Street in Ottawa to the research and collection campus of the Canadian Museum of Nature!

An open drawer holding trays of specimens.

Some of the fossil plant type specimens now housed at the museum’s facility. Image: Kathy Stewart © Canadian Museum of Nature

In the previous posting, the first 225 Lane cabinets had just been transported up from the United States to the museum’s Natural Heritage Campus, our research and collections facility in Gatineau, Quebec.

These cabinets will house some of the survey’s huge fossil invertebrate and plant collections. We allocated a space and renamed it the GSC Warehouse. Since that initial shipment, 225 more cabinets have been trucked up, making a total of 450 new cabinets now at our facility.

A plaque on a wall that says, "Comission géologique du Canada / Geological Survey of Canada / A1163".

New name plate for Warehouse 2 at our research and collections facility, which will house the Geological Survey of Canada’s National Plant Type Fossil Collection. Image: Michelle Coyne © Geological Survey of Canada

But these cabinets could not be moved into the warehouse until upgrades there were completed—so, where to put them all? The photo below tells the story: cabinets lining our collection hallways into infinity!

A very long corridor with a double stack of single-door cabinets along one side.

Hundreds of cabinets stored along the main corridors in the museum’s research and collection facility in Gatineau, Quebec. Image: Kathy Stewart © Canadian Museum of Nature

Upgrades to the GSC Warehouse—under the able supervision of the museum’s Martin Leclerc and Pascale Sénéchal—included compactor shelving, security, environmental controls and a fresh coat of paint to ensure the best conservation conditions.

A large room with tracks in the floor and metal frames for moving platforms on the tracks.

Compactor shelving to hold the collections being installed in the GSC Warehouse. Image: Michelle Coyne © Geological Survey of Canada

Meanwhile during the upgrades, the first of the GSC’s National Collections arrived from Booth Street. Two smaller but highly valued GSC collections, the National Meteorite and Tektite Collection, and the National Plant Type Fossil Collection, plus a Quaternary shell collection, were packed and trucked to our facility in late 2015 and early 2016.

Their moves were, in part, a pilot project to test packing methods, conservation needs and moving methods in preparation for future moves.

Meteorites! The Geological Survey’s collection of rock or iron fragments from outer space has attracted much public and scientific attention throughout its history. This collection had an auspicious beginning in 1855 when Sir W.E. Logan acquired the 167.8 kg Madoc Meteorite, the first recognized meteorite in Canada.

A meteorite specimen on a rock pedestal.

The main mass of the Madoc Meteorite, acquired by W.E. Logan. Image: Michelle Coyne © Geological Survey of Canada

Very soon after its discovery, the Madoc Meteorite became internationally known, going on display at the 1855 Universal Exposition in Paris, France.

The meteorite will remain in Logan Hall at the survey’s offices on Booth Street during the celebrations of their 175th anniversary in 2017. It will then move to our facility in Gatineau.

Since its early days, the Geological Survey’s meteorite collection has grown enormously. It now includes more than 3000 samples from 1035 distinct meteorites found in 87 countries.

The collection includes 52 Canadian meteorites, with recent acquisitions from Buzzard Coulee, Saskatchewan, and Tagish Lake near Atlin, British Columbia, by former curator R. Herd, Ph.D.

Tektites—debris caused by meteorite impact—are also in the collection.

A man inserts a drawer into a cabinet.

Carleton University student and survey volunteer Ian Beitz places a tray of meteorite samples in new cabinets. Image: Michelle Coyne © Geological Survey of Canada

The National Plant Type Fossil Collection also made the trip from Booth Street to Gatineau. These specimens were unpacked by staff and volunteers from the Geological Survey and stored in 22 cabinets in our Palaeobiology Collection until they can be moved to the GSC Warehouse. As with all the museum’s collections, they are accessible to scientists and the public.

The National Plant Type Fossil Collection represents fossil species that have been named, illustrated and published in the scientific literature. Walter A. Bell (1889–1969), was with the Geological Survey of Canada from his student days in 1920 to his retirement in 1954 as palaeobotanist and eventually director. In 1962, he published the first comprehensive catalogue of types and figured specimens of fossil mega- and micro-plants in the survey’s collections.

Two women pose with a row of single-door cabinets.

Michelle Coyne, a curator with the Geological Survey, and Alexandria Gaucher-Loksts, a survey volunteer, with the newly arrived National Plant Type Fossil Collection. Image: Kathy Stewart © Canadian Museum of Nature

The survey’s National Plant Type Fossil Collection will be a welcome addition to the museum’s fossil collection, in that many plant specimens were recovered from several of the same sites as vertebrate fossils in the museum’s collection. The plant fossils will provide information about the environment of the vertebrates.

Now, over a year since the last article, much has been accomplished, but much still needs to be done. The online databases and reference database for the Geological Survey’s collections need to be updated—an ongoing process. And much preparation is still needed for the “BIG” move to the museum’s campus of the rest of the survey’s mineral and fossil invertebrate collections. We expect to be filling those 450 cabinets later this year.

This entry was posted in Collections, Fossils, History, Rocks and minerals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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