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The Early Years
by Graham Williams and Rob Raeside
It is hard to believe that in 1971 there was no regional society interested in or focused on the geology of the Maritime Provinces. To rectify this, a letter was circulated to geologists and geophysicists of the three provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), asking for an expression of interest. The encouraging response led to an evening meeting in Halifax, October 1971, to discuss the viability of a regional group. Several long-standing members of the community favoured starting a Section of the Geological Association of Canada, but others proposed the founding of a new and independent Society. A questionnaire mailed to all interested parties showed overwhelming support for an independent group, with the most acceptable name (by one vote) being the Atlantic Geoscience Society.
The Atlantic Geoscience Society came into existence on 11th April 1972, at a meeting held at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth. About 30 members including representatives from the federal and provincial geological surveys, the regional universities, and industry attended the natal day ceremonies. The first general meeting was held 31st May, in the Faculty Club of Dalhousie University. Don Sherwin of the Federal Government gave a talk on the geology and petroleum potential of offshore eastern Canada, a topic which would not be out of place today.
At the 31st May meeting, it was decided to hold monthly meetings throughout the fall, winter and spring months, with presentations by invited speakers and to publish a regular newsletter. It was also decided to make the first evening meeting in the fall, usually in September, the Annual Meeting, with election of officers. And to encourage membership, the annual dues were set at one dollar, a cost which was not increased for five years. At the September meeting, Rupert MacNeill of Acadia University was officially installed as the first president.
Recognition of the importance of the Atlantic Geoscience Society first occurred on October 1973. At the Geological Association of Canada’s Council Meeting in Kingston, AGS officially became an Affiliated or Associated Society of GAC. In the following January, AGS consolidated its position by holding its first Colloquium, “The Geological Evolution of the Atlantic Seaboard of Canada”, in Fredericton (19-20 January). Despite taking place in the middle of a major snow storm, his very successful two day meeting attracted over 150 people, from the Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland and Ontario.
The response to the Fredericton meeting led to the organizing of the second Colloquium, “Natural Resources of Atlantic Canada”, held at Acadia University, Wolfville, in January 1976. Again, despite the inclement weather, there was an excellent turnout with about 200 in attendance. By great good fortune, the Society had hit on a time of year when it had a captive audience, since where else can one interested in the geosciences go at this time of year in the Maritimes. Coupled with the enthusiastic response was an increase in membership to about 175.
1976 was a particularly good year for the Atlantic Geoscience Society since the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada accepted the Society’s offer to hold their 1980 Annual Meeting in Halifax. The chairman of the Steering Committee for this meeting called Halifax ’80, was John Smith, Deputy Minister of Mines for Nova Scotia. And, AGS held its second major meeting of the year on Saturday, 11th December, at Mount Allison University. The one day Colloquium, “Current Research in the Maritimes”, attracted over 70 participants, with 44 speakers. The registration, in keeping with AGS policy, was $2.00.
The only year since 1976 that the Society has not held a Colloquium or Symposium was in 1977. The Society was not resting on its laurels, however, since it initiated a project to produce a geological highway map of the Atlantic or Maritime provinces, primarily intended for the general public but also to be finished in time for the Halifax ’80 meeting. Another milestone occurred on Thursday, 13th October, when AGS hosted an executive meeting of the Canadian Geoscience Council, the umbrella organization for all Canadian geoscientific societies.
In 1978, AGS renewed its annual meetings with a major symposium 20-21 January in Fredericton, where 140 gathered to discuss ” Provincialism”. At the accompanying banquet, the Society started the practice of inviting the president of either the Geological Association of Canada or the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists to be guest speaker. This practice was allowed to lapse in 2002. The year was also marked by the decision to produce a geological highway map, but to cover only Nova Scotia initially.
A draft version of the Nova Scotia geological highway map was displayed at the 1979 Biennial Colloquium, “Current Research in the Atlantic Provinces”, on 19-20th January in Amherst. The map was developed jointly with the Nova Scotia Department of Mines and Energy and the Nova Scotia Museum. It marked the first of several endeavours that AGS undertook in partnership with other organizations. In the fall, AGS helped organize a fun day for children at the Nova Scotia Museum, where one of the most popular activities was panning for gold. The festivities were part of Logan Day celebrations, a day named in honour of the first Director of the Geological Survey of Canada. Activities took place across Canada, from St John’s to Victoria.
Halifax ’80, the Annual Meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada, 19-21 May, was the most important function of the AGS in its first decade. Over 1100 people attended this enormously successful gathering. There were several highlights, one of which had to be the official publication of “The Geological Highway Map of Nova Scotia”. This superb production is not simply a map. It also tells the story of the geological history of the province, numbers and describes 92 sites and highlights eight key areas, such as Joggins. The map has been a major success, a revised version being published in 1990 and a repackaged version in 1994. A third edition was published in 2005 and a fourth edition is being planned for the Halifax 2022 meeting. The 2022 meeting, which marks the 50th anniversary of AGS, will be held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada.
On 28th September 1980, the AGS again celebrated Logan Day, now christened National Geoscience Day, by hosting ” A Day of Geology” at the Nova Scotia Museum. The main objective was to inform the public, especially children, about geology through demonstrations of rocks and minerals, fossils, films, gem polishing and contests. The highlight was a field trip to a once famous gold-producing area.
The 80s were times of major accomplishments for the Atlantic Geoscience Society. One of the first was the Earth Science Teachers’ Workshop, 5-7 November 1982. This Workshop, held at Bedford Institute in Dartmouth, focused on the coastal and offshore geology of eastern Canada and informed the teachers of some of the latest developments. It was one of the first focused outreach activities of the Society.
The response to the Nova Scotia Geological Highway Map motivated the decision in 1983 to produce one for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Another factor was the decision by the Society to throw its support behind the Department of Geology of UNB, which was organizing the 1985 Annual Meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada, to be held in Fredericton. At about the same time, Phil Hill proposed that AGS produce a series of videos under the title “The Geology of Atlantic Canada”. The idea was to produce educational videos for use in high schools and of interest to the general public.
1984 was memorable, not only because of George Orwell, but because at the AGS Annual Meeting in Amherst, 20-21 January, the Rupert MacNeill award for best student paper was presented for the first time. The winner was Allan Huard, who gave an excellent talk on the Carboniferous Fisset Brook Formation.
A milestone at the 1985 Annual Meeting in Wolfville, 18-19th January, was the premier viewing of the promotional rock video. The video was produced to generate funding for the Society’s proposed video series. The four videos to be produced were: “The Mineral Wealth of Atlantic Canada”, “The Appalachian Story”, “Offshore Oil and Natural Gas”, and “The Recent Ice Age”. During the year, the Atlantic Geoscience Society became an Affiliated Society of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Society. This was the stamp of approval for an ongoing informal liaison that over the years had proved extremely fruitful.
The 1985 Annual Meeting in Fredericton of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada went off without a hitch, as did the launching of the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Geological Highway Map: the latter was produced through the generosity of the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources. One major breakthrough was the publication of both French language and English language editions.
Following the tragic deaths of two young geologists, crushed when a ditch collapsed in 1984, the AGS organized an evening seminar and panel discussion for 25th September 1985. The topic, “Occupational Safety in the Geosciences”, was a timely reminder of the risks inherent in geological field work and in mining.
As an informally run Society, AGS has compiled an impressive record. On 9th April 1986, the Society became the proud parent of its own journal “Maritime Sediments and Atlantic Geology”, subsequently shortened to “Atlantic Geology”. This is the only regional geology journal in Canada and has a history of continuing production dating back to 1965, when Bernie Pelletier started publishing “Maritime Sediments”. In 1986, the Society hosted the Basins Symposium, “Basins of Eastern Canada and Worldwide Analogues”, held in Halifax, 13-15 August. Cosponsors were the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and the Inter-Union Commission on the Lithosphere. Registrants came from all over the world for the intensive technical sessions and excellent social program. One impressive offshoot of this Symposium was the CSPG Memoir 12-AGS Special Publication 5, “Sedimentary Basins and Basin-Forming Mechanisms”, published in 1987. This 527 page compendium quickly became a classic.
The 1987 Annual Meeting, held in Fredericton, 6-7 February, featured the introduction of workshops. The two workshops were ” Metamorphism in Basic-Ultrabasic Complexes” and, “Maturation Studies and Petroleum Geology”. The response to these guaranteed the continuing presence of workshops on the program for all future Annual Meetings.
While the above major developments were taking place, production of the first video in the Geology of Atlantic Canada series began under the direction of Bill Skerrett. The video, “The Mineral Wealth of Atlantic Canada” was released 16th September 1987, when it was shown at a Society evening meeting. In 1986, a major oil company had provided funding for a second video, “The Appalachian Story”. The premier of this production was at the AGS Symposium in Antigonish, 6th February 1988.
The educational value of the first two videos provided impetus for the production of the remaining two. “The Recent Ice Age” premiered Wednesday, 11th April 1990 at the Archives of Nova Scotia to a select audience. “Offshore Oil and Gas” had a more impressive send off at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, Wednesday, 4th November 1992. This, the last in the series, also featured Jay Ingram as narrator.
It was quickly realized that the impact of the video series could be enhanced by production of video guides for teachers, so plans were set in motion to write and publish these as quickly as possible. The three published are “The Appalachian Story”, “The Recent Ice Age”, and “Offshore Oil and Natural Gas”.
The videos have reached a wide audience, duplication rights being sold to many Departments of Education, including the Provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and British Columbia. There have also been a surprising number of sales to university departments throughout North America, several regional school boards, and libraries. The video guides have also developed a loyal following.
Bringing the 1980s to a close was the first presentation of the AGS Distinguished Service Award. The recipient, Laing Ferguson, received the honour at the 1989 Annual Colloquium, 3-4th February, fittingly held in Amherst.
Not having learned from past experience how traumatic it was, AGS Council agreed in 1987 to host the 1992 Annual Meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada, to be held in Wolfville, 25-27 May 1992. As with Halifax ’80 and Fredericton ’85, Wolfville ’92 was an impressive meeting. It differed, however, in having a strong outreach program, including a teachers’ workshop with accompanying field trip.
The retrenchment in the economy in the late 80s and early 90s had a major impact on the Atlantic Geoscience Society. Memberships lapsed and attendance at the Annual Meetings declined but there always remained a committed cadre. This was demonstrated at the 1993 Annual Meeting in Halifax, 12-13th February, when about 175 registrants braved a fierce storm (rain surprisingly) to attend. A notable event at this meeting was the awarding of the Gesner Medal to Les Fyffe, the first recipient. The Medal, designed by Gordon Fader, is awarded to a person who has, through his or her own efforts, developed and promoted the advancement of geoscience in the Atlantic Region in any field of geology, and whose contributions are of such significance that they have made an impact outside our area.
A milestone in the nineties was the official recognition of the Society’s outreach program, by formation of the Education Committee. During its existence, this Committee has fostered several new initiatives, including bringing the EdGEO teachers workshops to Nova Scotia. EdGEO is a committee of interested Canadian geologists, which organizes Workshops for elementary and high school teachers in most of the provinces. Funding for these Workshops is provided by the geological community, primarily the Canadian Geoscience Council and its member societies. The first Nova Scotia EdGEO Workshop, “The Earth Sciences: New Resources for Teachers”, was held in Halifax-Dartmouth, 22-23 August 1994. The format adopted and maintained for several Workshops, was a Monday morning classroom session, Monday afternoon field trip, Monday evening banquet and talk, and Tuesday morning classroom session, concluding with a summation. The teachers’ reactions to the Workshop were surprising. They were enthusiastic, especially about some of the resource material handed out, and liked the two day format. However, the neglect of earth science in the curriculum was reflected by several requests to run a workshop, “Introduction to Geology”. Other suggestions were for more field trips and for field trip guides.
The response to the first Teachers Workshops led to the decision to make it an annual event and to move location, so that teachers from other parts of the province could attend and each field trip would be different. Subsequently, Workshops have been held in Sydney (1995), Wolfville (1996), Bridgewater (1997), Truro (1998), Parrsboro (1999), Antigonish (2000), Parrsboro (2001), Digby (2002), Parrsboro (2003), Dartmouth (2004), Halifax and Parrsboro (2005), Dartmouth (2006), Wolfville (2007), Dartmouth (2008), Parrsboro (2009), Halifax (2010 to 2017), Joggins (2016), Halifax (2017). The presenters at these twenty-five EdGEO Workshops have all been primarily geologists, who volunteered their time because they believe that they can help to make teaching earth science a lot more fun. And the support of others, in helping with the logistics, has been tremendous.
Another encouraging outreach development has been the two New Brunswick Workshops. The first was held in Saint John in 2013. This was followed by a workshop at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada, which was held in Fredericton.
1996 marked the introduction of field trips to the Annual Colloquium as AGS held its first meeting in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Twenty five people took part in a tour of the Brunswick No. 12 Mine. Many of the 180 registrants enjoyed taking the train to avoid a long drive. A workshop on Exploration Geophysics was also held.
In 1997, the Atlantic Geoscience Society celebrated its Silver Jubilee at the Annual Meeting in Amherst, Nova Scotia, on 7-8 February, 1997. One of the highlights was initiation of the Graham Williams Award for Best Poster Presentation by a student. The first recipient was Sandra Marshall of Acadia University. It also marked the introduction of the Noranda Award, initiated by Dave Gower of Noranda Mining Inc., for the best Economic Geology presentation by a student. Kelly Janssens from UNB was the first winner.
1998 marked the publication of ” Discovering Rocks, Minerals and Fossils in Atlantic Canada”, a superb guide to some of the best geological sites in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The impact of this publication is reflected in the sales, and the speed at which the first printing sold out. This is not surprising since it is of interest to professional geologists, teachers, students and the general public.
The birth of the AGS-Photographic Guild of Nova Scotia Geology and Photography Competition occurred in 2000. Each year, the winning photograph is selected from several entries submitted by members of the Photographic Guild. To encourage participation, AGS organizes an annual field trip, which usually attracts about 20 photographers, to one of the classic geological sites in Nova Scotia. Venues have included Five Islands (2002), Joggins (2003) and East Bay and Wasson Bluff (2004), Five Islands (2005) and Blue Beach (2006). There was no field trip in 2007. A second trophy, The Last Billion Years Award, was introduced in 2005. The winner must be a photograph of somewhere in the Maritime Provinces. The photographs chosen as the winners are available to AGS for use in publications and in displays.
A new look in outreach products was first mooted at the 1995 Annual Meeting in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. There, it was proposed that there should be a popular book on the geology of the Maritime Provinces, written so that high school students or lay people would find it interesting and informative. This developed into “The Last Billion Years: a Geological History of the Maritime Provinces of Canada”, which is a 212 page volume. The book is beautifully illustrated, with some original water-colour paintings, photographs, line drawings, dioramas, schematics and geological maps, most in full colour. Production of “The Last Billion Years” has truly been a regional endeavour, with contributions from the Geological Survey of Canada, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and most regional universities.
“The Last Billion Years”, co-published by the Society and Nimbus Publishing, became available for purchase on 10th July 2001. The first print run was for 2100 copies. The success of the book was confirmed when it became out of print in five weeks. After discussions with Nimbus, it was agreed to reprint 2000 copies. The reprinted version was released in early November (5th). This was sold out in January 2002, necessitating a third printing of 3000 in February 2002, with a fourth printing of 2000 in 2003. At the end of 2007, sales stood at about 8000.
In 2003, AGS held its first joint meeting with the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America. This was held 27th-29th March in the Westin Hotel, Halifax. The attendance was impressive, with over 650 geologists and friends from various parts of Canada and the USA braving the unpredictable “spring” weather. One of the most popular events was the education session, “Communicating the Relevance of Earth Science”, held on the Saturday. At this, many of the talks were hands-on demonstrations, a great hit with the 42 teachers and several geologists who attended.
The AGS poster, “The Evolving Maritimes” was on sale for the first time at the above meeting. The centerpiece of the poster is the cover painting from “The Last Billion Years”. The comprehensive text describes, in English and French, the evolution of the Earth and of our region’s animals and plants over time.
A disappointment of recent years was the demise of the AGS evening talk series. These were held, primarily in Halifax, for about twenty years but as time passed the audience became too few to justify continuing. Several Society members banded together in 2001 and decided to try again but with a different slant. The first year, 2001-2002, featured speakers who had authored chapters in the book “The Last Billion Years”. Talks were aimed at a general audience rather than focusing on a specialized topic. And the series would be a joint production of the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural Science and the Society, with the talks held on the third Wednesday evening of each month at the Museum.
The series, “The Last Billion Years” opened in September 2001. Because of its success, the series was reborn in 2002-2003 as “Beyond the Last Billion Years” and continued to thrive for several years. The talks draw spectacular turnouts, with crowds averaging over 100 for the second season. The third season had one or two bumps resulting from hurricane Juan but proved just as popular. For 2004, there was a new slant. Complimentary copies of the poster, “The Evolving Maritimes” were handed out to draw winners at the beginning of each talk. Another slant was the awarding of copies of “The Last Billion Years” ” to those who attended all the talks in the 2003-2004 year. This was continued in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. But it was discontinued in 2007, when the talk series moved to Bedford Institute for a year. The biggest surprise is that very few geologists attend the talks. Obviously, the Museum and Society are filling a need to attract such impressive numbers.
In 2004, AGS published “Nova Scotia Rocks”. This brochure includes over 40 stunning photographs of geological highlights, with a brief accompanying write-up. The photographs are attractively displayed around a geological map of the province on which the sites are pinpointed. Museums and companies with a geological bent are featured on the obverse side of the brochure, with a highway map showing location of the operation according to the provincial trail. Thirty seven thousand copies of the brochure were printed, thanks to generous funding from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. In July 2004, the Department mailed 10,000 copies to individual tourist offices for free distribution. Apparently, the brochures are proving very popular, selling (a play on words) out several times at the Halifax Airport location.
Producing such publications as “The Last Billion Years” and “Nova Scotia Rocks” has given the Education Committee an added appreciation of the importance of visuals, whether paintings, photographs or schematics. This awareness has played a major role in the Fundy Basin Poster project, which started in 2003. One of the products was a series of water colours by Judi Pennanen, the artist who did 15 paintings for “The Last Billion Years”. The five water colours show landscapes in Wolfville, Blomidon, North Mountain Basalt, and McCoy Brook times, plus a spectacular scene starring prosauropods. Visually, all five are stunning. The intent is to use the paintings, which are on display at the Fundy Geological Museum, as the focus of a booklet on the Mesozoic history of the Fundy Basin.
The Society had four important milestones in 2005. The first was organizing Halifax 2005, a joint meeting of the Geological Association of Canada, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and the Canadian Society of Soil Science. Although the weather was not too cooperative, the meeting was highly successful, judging by the impressive turnout, the excellent technical and field trip programs, and the entertaining social events.
Publication of the third edition of the Nova Scotia Geological Highway Map was the second significant accomplishment in 2005. The map has been considerably enhanced with upgraded graphics, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing product. Sales have been as impressive as the previous two editions.
The first New Brunswick EdGEO teachers’ workshop was a third milestone in 2005, organized by Dave Lentz and the New Brunswick EdGEO branch.
A fourth milestone with potentially major implications was acceptance as a participant in CRYSTAL. This research program, under the leadership of the University of New Brunswick’s Department of Education, was to evaluate the success in teaching science in schools throughout the Maritime Provinces. One of the evaluations will be focused on the achievements of outreach programs, such as the EdGEO Workshops and the various other products that AGS has produced. Regretfully, the National Science and Engineering Research Council, which was funding CRYSTAL, terminated the program the following year.
An important accomplishment of the Society has been the development of EarthNet (http://www.earthnet-geonet.ca/). EarthNet is a database of earth science resources that are useful to elementary and high school teachers. Other features are: “Classroom Activities” which teachers can download at no cost; an illustrated “Glossary of Terms”, a “Calendar of Events” that informs users of events in their part of Canada; “Geology in the Classroom “, a Q & A section where previously answered questions are also posted; “Earth Science Site of the Week” where a new science site is featured every week, “Exploring the Dynamic Earth”, where animation and video will supplement illustrations photographs and text and the Virtual Field Trip, which takes you to one of the spectacular sections in Nova Scotia (and eventually throughout Canada). The project, initiated by AGS was adopted as a project by the Canadian Geoscience Education Network, the premier organization of geologists devoted to advancing outreach activities in Canada. EarthNet has also been supported by the Geological Survey of Canada.
EarthNet was revitalized in 2004, through a renewed interest by the Geological Survey of Canada in updating the site. This rising from the ashes included the formation of a National EarthNet Committee and a Development Committee. The latter operates out of GSC (Atlantic) and includes a high proportion of AGS members. The database has been redesigned and updated with some major improvements, especially in the Glossary, The Virtual Field Trip, and the Resources sections. Son of EarthNet, the revised version, was released in 2005.
After the very (financially) successful Halifax 2005 meeting, the host society’s share of the profits materialized in the bank in 2006, and the first third was promptly allocated to the major task of digitizing the entire run of Atlantic Geology. The last printed edition of the journal was volume 42 – all subsequent issues have been electronic.
In April 2006, after a hiatus of over 15 years, the video committee released another video “Halifax Harbour: A Geological Journey”. The video tells the story of this famous harbour, from formation of the Meguma Group to the present day, and looks into the future with predictions on sea-level rise. The video was produced by Charlie Doucet of MoonGlow Digital Video Productions Ltd., the scientific director was Gordon Fader, and narration is by George Jordan.
The final four years of the decade saw a considerable up-ramp in activity for the Society under the presidencies of Ian Spooner, Mike Parsons and David Mosher. In part this was accomplished by using teleconferencing technology to bring the entire Council together for regular meetings, which ensured better opportunity for people in far-flung parts to participate.
Some of the new directions involved supporting the organization of Halifax 2008 Conjugate Margins of the Central Atlantic conference, and starting a run of many years participating in the Parrsboro (now Nova Scotia) Gem and Mineral Show. The always-active Nova Scotia EdGEO group began participating with the Nova Scotia Association of Science Teachers for their annual workshop, and the Society teamed up with APICS (now Science Atlantic) to run the annual speaker tour to the area universities. The increased workload, especially involving publications and other products (even AGS mugs!) resulted in Nelly Koziel assuming the handling of these items out of BIO. Nelly became increasingly involved in the affairs of the society over the next ten years, regularly staffing the booth at the annual colloquia and table at the Parrsboro Gem and Mineral Show.
Perception that the average age of the Society might exceed its membership numbers led to increased action to recruit students. The first attempt involved establishing a Student Liaison Coordinator, a position that was approved by the Society, but never actually filled. There followed a free-ranging discussion at the annual colloquium, which led to the expansion of Council to include two student members, one a graduate student, the other a member of the upcoming year’s AUGC committee. This has helped to ensure a student voice is heard on the Council. Student participation has always been a major component of the annual colloquia, and recognition of students expanded from a single prize for the best presentation (the Rupert MacNeill Award) to add the best poster presentation (the Graham Williams Award). In 2008, two outstanding talks were given back to back at the Colloquium by Marc Laflamme and Matt Stimson – but Marc’s presentation was at a much higher level as he was then concluding his PhD research, whereas Matt at the time was a second-year undergraduate student. Much angst among the judges and others fortunate enough to witness both presentations led to the introduction of awards for graduate and undergraduate presentations, the Sandra Barr Award for best graduate student oral presentation, and the Rob Raeside Award for best undergraduate student poster presentation.
Two long-time members of the Society were specially recognized in 2008 – Graham Williams, after many, many years involvement was awarded a life-time membership, which would save him the princely sum of $5 membership annually, and the Distinguished Service Award was renamed the Laing Ferguson Distinguished Service Award in honour of his role in establishing the Society and long commitment to it.
Two other major ventures as the noughties drew to a close were the production of the Halifax Harbour video and contributions toward a new book project, Four Billion Years, being coordinated by CFES to coincide with the IYPE (International Year of Planet Earth).
Some losses occurred through this period too. Publication of a regular newsletter ended – the frequency of its production had been dropping for several years, and electronic communications were becoming increasingly available. All information (conference fliers, notice of events, community announcements) were now channeled through a dedicated email distribution list. Likewise, the regular Halifax evening meetings concluded their nearly 40-year run, the result of a temporary closure of the Nova Scotia Museum location in Halifax. Another demise, but with a positive outcome, saw Atlantic Geology complete the switch-over from a bound journal to an electronic-only interface, and join the Canadian Geoscience Knowledge Network. The rate of article publications continued unabated, though. In 2007, David McMullin concluded eight years of service as production manager for Atlantic Geology as he passed the reins over to Chris White.
Entering 2010, President Grant Ferguson noted that the Atlantic Geoscience Society stood at a crossroads, as did the geoscience community nationally. The old Canadian Geoscience Council had gone the way of the dinosaurs, and a new group, Canadian Federation of Earth Science rose to replace it as an umbrella organization for earth science-related societies in Canada. The Society became the sole regional society to join the CFES, and in due course several of the offices were filled by people who started their service in the AGS. Elisabeth Kosters served as business manager, and both Scott Swinden and Sandra Barr took roles as president. Within the Society, aging membership again became and issue, and a discussion was circulated, followed by a round-table discussion at the annual colloquium. Out of these efforts, it was agreed to appoint a graduate and an undergraduate student to the AGS Council, to have a greater input to the annual student-run Atlantic Universities Geoscience Conference (AUGC), and to provide more student-oriented activities at the colloquium and through the year.
The Society continued to diversify its activity, increasingly using its resources to initiate or further a wide range of projects – posters, conferences, provision of keynote speakers, funding of publications, the annual speaker tour, booths at trade shows, support of student conferences, supporting teachers to attend workshops, and exhibits. In 2011, we enticed Hylonomus lyelli to return home from Britain to the Joggins Fossil Centre for a visit! The diversity of the Society’s publications also required the formalization of the Publications Committee, overseeing the full range of products, e.g., Atlantic Geology, videos, books, highway maps, field trip guidebooks.
Events on the national level appear to have attracted the Society’s attention in this period. In 2012, the Society penned an open letter to the Prime Minister, addressing the impact of cuts to scientific programs, and in 2014 the Society took an active part in the hotly debated proposal to erect a six-story veterans’ memorial at Green Cove, Cape Breton Island in time for the national 150th anniversary in 2017. On an international level, the Society was accepted as an affiliated society by the AAPG House of Delegates in 2014.
The Education Committee continued to be as busy as ever, producing in 2013, a Nova Scotia Pebble Guide, in the form of a brochure and available on the website. This guide has subsequently attracted considerable attention from rock hounders and the public in general, and a New Brunswick version is being planned. Jumping up in scale, the Society proposed that specimens from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia be added to the University of Waterloo Peter Russell Rock Garden. Various nominations were received and voting for the best representatives was held at the 2014 Colloquium in Wolfville. The run-away winner in New Brunswick was the St. George red granite, much used as a building stone in the province. The race was closer in Nova Scotia, with votes being cast for the North Mountain Basalt (winner), South Mountain Batholith (close second), Meguma slate (“a piece of Africa”) and Joggins tree fossils.
Some significant landmarks in this period included the 50th anniversary of the Society’s journal, initially known as Maritime Sediments, later expanding to Maritime Sediments and Atlantic Geology, and finally dropping the old term to become Atlantic Geology. In honour of this milestone, a special session looking back at 50 years of research in the region was convened at the annual colloquium, and the banquet speaker was Sandra Barr, editor-in-chief of the journal, who was able to reminisce back to issue 2 when, as a summer student, she was involved in its early compilation. Another milestone was reached when Ken Howells decided to step down as treasurer, a position he held since the 1980s, to be replaced by the team of Nelly Koziel and Calvin Campbell. Ken was awarded the third lifetime membership in the Society in recognition of his services.
The Publications Committee was re-initiated in 2013 and arranged for all AGS publications to be archived in the Dalhousie library system ( http://dalspace.library.dal.ca/handle/10222/50639). A similar arrangement was achieved with the AAPG Datapages, which archived all AGS publications in Tulsa, OK, thereby making them available to the general public. Although not an AGS publication, the book Four Billion Years and Counting was released at events in Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary in November 2014, to much acclaim. Members of the AGS Education Committee were heavily involved in the production of “FBY”.
The year 2017 saw major changes in the operations. Calvin Campbell stepped down as co-treasurer, to be replaced by Nikole Bingham-Koslowski. Nelly Koziel, who had been co-treasurer with Calvin, but was also the “face” of the Society, staffing the sales table at the annual colloquium, the Parrsboro Gem and Mineral Show, and who was generally willing to be the go-to person for many details, died in 2017. Nikole continued as treasurer until her relocation to Ottawa in 2020, when Paul Batson assumed the role. The “bookstore” also moved from BIO to Acadia University, ably managed by Lynn Graves.
The end of the decade saw ramping up of activity leading to Halifax 2022 – a joint meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada with the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH-CNC) and the CSPG. Some major projects that were undertaken with Halifax 2022 in view included a second edition of Last Billion Years, with updates to reflect nearly 20 years of geological research, and new editions of the Geological Highway Maps of both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island. These two maps have been prepared to use common colour schemes and unit descriptions.
The Society also compiled a list of Geoheritage Sites in Nova Scotia, in due course approved by the Provincial Legislature, and established a Geoheritage Committee to continue monitoring this effort and to extend it into New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Through the second half of the decade, annual Colloquium meetings fell into a rhythm of meeting every second year at the Holiday Inn in Truro, with meetings in Fredericton or Wolfville in the intervening years. Attendance at these conferences continued to be very strong, generally around 200 people, and upwards of 75 presentations, which pushed the facilities at these establishments. The 2020 conference garnered 217 registrations, and along with it substantial financial sponsorship, resulting in several healthy surpluses. That money is used largely to fund several projects, including guest speakers, equipment purchases, museum donations, and a ramp-up of social media activity. Within a month of the highly successful 2020 colloquium, however, the world shut down as Covid-19 raged, and the 2021 conference had to go online. Still, with nearly 200 registrants and a steady diet of three simultaneous sets of conference talks, the usual mid-winter weekend went well, allowing several old faces to beam in from distant locations, and avoiding the perils of winter travel.
Moving into the 2020s, the Atlantic Geoscience Society remains vibrant, with many ventures in the works. It continues to work on vignettes displaying the geology of Arisaig and York Redoubt, is undertaking a major survey and potential organization of geological collections in the region, conducted a full website renewal, and looks forward to hosting the national conference in 2022.
As society changes, the Atlantic Geoscience Society has had to adjust. Its primary mandate remains the dissemination of geoscientific knowledge and information, primarily through the Annual Meetings where there are usually more than 50 oral and poster presentations, and its research journal, Atlantic Geology. However, there is an increasing awareness of the importance of outreach activities and the need to play a role in the education of elementary and high school students, teachers and the general public. Based on its past accomplishments and present goals, the Atlantic Geoscience Society will continue to play a vital role in the dissemination of earth science knowledge in the Maritime Provinces, whether at the professional or lay person’s level. That’s not a bad record for a group of volunteers, largely funded by the geological community.
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