adventures in the far east — of canada!

Johnson Geo Centre

In st. john's on June 18, 2009 at 1:01 am

This place made rocks interesting.

From the outside, it looks like the tiniest little place. I saw it on our first day when we were at Signal Hill, and remarked on it, but Karen told me most of it is underground, with like over a kilometer of walkable displays. She said they were very impressive, and largely (all?) funded by the place’s namesake rich guy.

It was indeed impressive…the exhibits were very nicely done (their font was Meta!), and my brother and I loved the stuff in the gift shop. Things there were very nicely priced–they were selling some sciency stuff, some novelties, some semi-precious stones, crystals, etc. Drumheller in Alberta does the same–you know, those rocks broken open to show the purple or white crystals, flat pieces of agate, and so on. But from what I recall, Drumheller tries to rob you…

The Geo Centre not only profiles Newfoundland, apparently the place with the most diverse rock formations and some of the oldest stones in Canada, it begins by lightly exploring such things as planets, stars, and galaxies. It was way better done than the somewhat childish Science Centre in Calgary, and while they didn’t have dinosaurs, their exploration of minerals, glaciers, and such things was much better than Drumheller’s.

There’s not a lot to say (it’s something that needs to be experienced and learned firsthand from the exhibits), but let’s begin outside.

Geo Centre sign

Geo Centre sign

Geo Centre, deceptively small

Geo Centre, deceptively small

Outside were two sculptures of dogs, and here is where began The Day of Learning. There is a breed of dog called the Newfoundland dog. Not terribly brilliant, but here comes the moment–the Labrador was bred from this stock. Newfoundland and Labrador–and Newfoundland produced the Labrador Retriever! It all just kinda came crashing home. Duh! Who doesn’t know those loyal, playful, happy dogs? Strangely pleased, I happily sat atop the Labrador Retriever like it was my trusty steed. My brother scoffed that I chose to ride the Labrador, being now a resident of Newfoundland, but I scoffed at him because mine was the better dog. 🙂

Wish you could really do this

Wish you could really do this

Brother on Newfoundland dog

Brother on Newfoundland dog

Inside the deceptively small Geo Centre–a small cafe, gift shop, reception, coat room, elevator down–and a giant globe! It was like Universal Studios, minus a lot of films.

Wireframe world

Wireframe world

Downstairs is the exhibit about our some celestial wonders with the solar system was displayed fantastically above.

The solar system

The solar system

Ahem...

Ahem...

Early in the exhibit, there is something rather profound in the way the museum chose to show something. Very cool way to illustrate the scale. I urge you to click into the next three pictures to see just what I mean…

Click for a better look...

Click for a better look...

See it full size!

See it full size!

Scale comparison

Scale comparison

Haha, I thought the next picture would be a nice call out to the Albertans…

The Rockies

The Rockies

Labradorite is neat and shiny, but only when it catches the light… To my knowledge, there is no Newfoundlandite, or whatever.

Shiny!

Shiny!

Not shiny

Not shiny

Describing Pangea, and how it split up into the continents over many millions of years. And I thought the line of globes was cute; each earth had a red dot of where St. John’s was. Through millions of years, it was mostly in the sea, but at one point it was inland and not an island at all!

Pangea

Pangea

Brief exploration of human evolution, before it moved on to focus on the migration of humanity from Africa to various places, and then to the area of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Different humanoid skulls

Different humanoid skulls

There was a lot of iceberg stuff as well, but having got pictures of a real one, fake recreations just would not do. There were two other separate exhibits, one about oil–its properties, how it is extracted, that sorta stuff. The province is experiencing a sort of boom with an offshore oil rig, you see. I thought it wouldn’t be interesting coming from oil-rich Calgary, but their displays, as you can see, were stellar again. With the rig, I also had fun taking pictures of the mini people on it, and beyond that, those photos show just how detailed the model is…

Oil tanker, bow

Oil tanker, bow

Oil tanker, stern

Oil tanker, stern

Oil rig

Oil rig

Another view of the rig

Another view of the rig

Mini guy

Mini guy

Mini dude

Mini dude

Mini workmen!

Mini workmen!

And the other exhibit was, interestingly, all about the Titanic. Not only did they have a bunch of the old relics from the ship, they also had some of the original movie props, and things signed by people like James Cameron, or artists who depicted the ship. I initially was skeptical of the whole thing, but as I got to reading some of it, it was again very well done, and so dramatic–it was a tone and approach I didn’t expect. They gave ship specs and all that, but they also uncovered a lot of the lies and atrocities, revealing sad truths. For example, sure you knew there weren’t enough lifeboats for all the guests–but I was astounded to find out how many seats were empty. They were usually less than half full, and those that managed to get on generally did not try to rescue those dying around them in the sea. There was one passage…I think a lady recounted hearing the screams and calls for help all around their lifeboat, imploring someone to please just save one life, and how no one on the ship dared do nothing. They coped by “convincing themselves they were not friends or relatives” or something. Yikes.

Or how they discriminated against third class passengers, who were mostly poor or immigrants. They were locked in on their lowest of the passenger floors as the ship flooded, and few escaped. Also incredible is the documentation of just how many warnings the Titanic crew ignored, and how incompetently they acted, and how an older man gave up his seat on a lifeboat, how his wife refused to leave him and declared that she’d “follow him into eternity” and did. Harrowing stuff…

As ever, there were gorgeous models built. Another sad but intriguing fact: the Titanic’s four smokestacks? One was fake…they constructed a dummy, because all these other ships they were trying to best had three! Ego could be said to be the biggest factor that would ultimately sink the Titanic.

For the ruined models, it was difficult to take photos of in that weird but awesome light. Still, it’s an impressive sight.

The Titanic, whole

The Titanic, whole

Titanic model

Titanic model

Titanic detail, port side

Titanic detail, port side

Titanic detail, starboard side

Titanic detail, starboard side

That more or less wraps up the best parts of the Geo Centre! A lot of it was great, but I’ve put up a few too many photos for today…

I had also wanted to check out the Basilica of St. John’s in the city, but when we went, it was closed. It was Sunday then, so I was disappointed because I couldn’t see it, as I began working Monday. Well, I was excited about that, though.

My broher went on his own Monday, took some lovely pics, and after work, we celebrated my first day at Target with a last dinner at Blue on Water before he left Tuesday morning. We were determined to eat some solid seafood, and so we did…

But that, and the Basilica imagery, will be for tomorrow!

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  1. The Geo Centre could never compare to the science centre or royal tyrrell(DINOSAURS!!)! You’re just jealous because all you have is seafood!! and rocks!! and water crashing onto those rocks!

    I will admit the scale thing is pretty cool though, but did they cheat on it? I can’t really read that first picture, but I think it says.. “Actual height of sand column required to represent the age of the Earth is 80 metres, containing xx tonnes of sand.” THE SIGN IN FRONT IS A LIE, THERE AREN’T 4 BILLION GRAINS IN THAT LAST CONTAINER!

    • As I said, they don’t have dinosaurs…but the Tyrell’s rock stuff was piss poor! And until you try the seafood here, you can’t diss it! 🙂

      Well, then that column is even more impressive. Even a portion of the actual time was staggering, to think it should be a column 80m tall…

  2. you rock. hehe. get it?

  3. You look a little evil with the Earth there… 😛

    It looks awesome, everything does. I’m kind of commenting for this, the last entry, and the next one about the Basillica all in this. I definitely intend to come out there, and maybe you can learn how to cook lobster, haha. As for the rock stuff, yeah, Drumheller’s pricey and not so into the geology, but you can’t beat it for paeleontology!

    Glad you’re having so much fun, and I look forward to reading more 😀

  4. I’d love it if you could, Jamie. 🙂 Very honestly, it’s a little lonely!

    It’s not just me, as there are hundreds of sites with articles and advice on making new friends in new cities you have zero roots in, sorta like me. Apparently we all get too used to home, and the support base to easily keep making more. It’s weird when it’s gone!

  5. Didn’t you get my email about the hills (as in, the subject line was about ’em)? If not, I think I can resend it and we can start planning. But short story is, I kind of wanted some kind of travel-y thing this summer, and it’d be nice to tie it in to a trip to Winnipeg to see my dad, so basically sometime in August I’d definitely love to come out and see the East coast 🙂

    Oh – I forgot to mention, I can see the photos in these 3 recent posts, but I don’t think I could before… I can also see the pics in the previous post where I said I couldn’t. Weird. Oh well, I guess better late than never.

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