History Of Ancient Echoes

History of Ancient Echoes

Ancient Echoes is a community-based facility which interprets, conserves, protects, and promotes the history, the peoples and the assets of the land forming the Eagle Creek Valley and beyond the Coalmine Ravine at Herschel, Saskatchewan.

The Interpretive Centre began in the fall of 1994, after the closure of the local elementary school, which the Board of Directors bought from the school division for a small sum of money.

Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre is located northwest of Rosetown in the village of Herschel. It is a community-based project that serves the West central area of Saskatchewan for the educational and preservation purposes of the site and as a community centre.

Ancient Echoes is now under the umbrella of the R.M. of Mountain View #318 and the Ancient Echoes board serves as an advisory board. The Centre has three key areas of focus: prehistoric era, aboriginal history, and the ecology of the area, which is native prairie. The area includes aboriginal historical sites including petroglyphs, which have been designated as a Municipal heritage site. We have archaeological dig-sites and paleontology excavation sites. Our area is the resting place for many marine fossils including plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.

We provide guided hikes through the ravine area to see the different sites and give interpretation in our exhibit room that contains a natural history display, aboriginal artifacts and a permanent painting collection about the disappearance of the plains bison by Metis artist, Jo Cooper. Outside our facility is a life-size statue of a plains grizzly bear created by William Epp that was once part of our landscape before its extinction in the 20th Century. We also pay tribute to the 9th Earl of Southesk, James Carnegie, who came to this part of Saskatchewan, from Kinnaird, Scotland, in 1859 on a hunting expedition in search of large game including the grizzlies. His diary, available for perusal in our library, details his encounter with a bear in the Bad Hills near Herschel.

Our centre provides programs for school groups and the general public. We accommodate all age levels, interest levels and group sizes. We have special programs throughout the summer months and a few in the winter months. We are a seasonal facility open 6 days a week from May to the end of August, and then by request through the winter and spring. Our tearoom operates Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoons (2:30 – 4:30pm) in the summer season and on Fridays from 2:30 - 4:30 pm in the winter, serving up delicious home-baked dainties and Saskatoon berry pie.


Millions of Years Ago – Western Interior Seaway: a strip of salt water that flowed from the Arctic down to Texas and over to the Gulf of Mexico. This finger of ocean divided North America in half. Sharks, fish, crocodiles, birds and giant clams lived in a climate that was much like that of the Florida Everglades.

1930s – Soft coal is mined in the Coal Mine Ravine.

1960 – Petroglyph #1 is discovered by Mr. Henry Kosloski, a farmer from nearby Biggar. Despite knowing the importance of the discovery, Mr. Kosloski keeps the petroglyph a secret, to protect it from vandals.

1961 – Herschel school is built.

1978 – Mr. Kosloski reveals his secret concerning the petroglyphs of unknown origin.

1988 – August: Petrolyph site receives heritage status. It is the first rock art site to be designated a Municipal Heritage Site in the Province of Saskatchewan.

1990 – First fossilized Plesiosaur discovered in Herschel Area. The plesiosaur had a small head, long neck, barrel shaped body, short tail and paddles that propelled it through the water. It was roughly the size of a dolphin or small whale (about 2.5-3 metres long). Tim Tokaryk, paleontologist, from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum was in charge of the excavation. This skeleton, named Dolichorynchops Herschelensis, was transported to Regina and is in the Royal Saskatchewan Museum there. 

1992 – August: Preliminary mapping and test excavations were undertaken at the petroglyph site. A 1 metre squared unit was placed at the southeastern foot of Monolith 1 and excavated to the depth of approximately 30 centimetres below the surface, where the underlying glacial till was encountered. A small, triangular projectile point, a scraper, a bi-face fragment, and a few fragments of prehistoric pottery were uncovered.

1993 – June to August: Further excavations undertaken at the petroglyph sites. The crew completed an additional 17 one metre square units, including two more at Monolith 1. Findings included various objects believed to be offerings. These served to show the continuous use of the site from approximately 600AD to 1900AD.

June 1993 -- Herschel kindergarten to elementary school is closed due to declining attendance. The Herschel Development Committee negotiates with the Rosetown school division to buy the school and a former teacherage, for $1. Further excavations near Monolith 1: two one metre squared and 2 .5x1m units were placed immediately east of units 1 and 2 in an attempt to uncover the boulder platform found in previous excavations. Local taxidermist, Lyle Waddington, begins to donate his work to the Interpretive Centre.

October 1993 -- The Herschel Interpretive Centre is officially established. It is set up totally by volunteer work and funded by donations, and a small government grant. The Centre’s mandate is to promote ecology, fossil history and the Aboriginal heritage of the area.

August 1994 -- Increased interest in fossil finds brought out students from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. 

1997 – two additional Plesiosaurs are discovered. Rosetown resident and local woodcarver, Jack Klemmer, visits Ancient Echoes for the first time. Mr. Klemmer since displayed his carvings at the Centre and additionally he donated the proceeds from their sale to the Centre. His work is still on display today.

May 1997 --  Metis artist Jo Cooper’s painting exhibit, entitled “The Disappearance and Resurgence of the Buffalo” is displayed for the first time at Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre.

June 7th 1997 -- Native spiritual teaching workshop held at Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre. Central theme of the workshop is unity, to emphasize the oneness of mankind and the need to recognize all peoples as members of this earth.

September 1997 -- Excavation #2 of plesiosaur. During this excavation palaeontologists uncovered the remains of varying marine life: two or three different shark species, numerous fish vertebrate fragments, and a mosasaur (large lizard like marine animal).

1999 – April Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre receives a $5000 donation from Enbridge Pipelines Inc. The donation is used for the purchase of shipping carts for the Centre’s displays and to help pay for the initial print runs of Jo Cooper’s paintings.

Up to 2016- More and more palaeontology is being done in the area with new dinosaurs and marine reptiles being found in the ravine. The Herschel area is a hot spot for archaeology, palaeontology, native plants and animals, and much more!

2017 -- June 16-18 -- Ancient Echoes celebrated Canada 150 with The Shared Land Celebration. This event was shared with representatives of the Blackfoot, Cree, Gros Ventre and Lakota Nations. There was much sharing of ideas about the future of the centre and the difficult issues of Truth and Reconciliation where discussed. A large numbers of visitors also shared in a statement of reconciliation for the purpose of healing and movement towards a brighter future for all peoples in Canada.

2017 -- August 22nd -- An excited visitor named Craig Johnston from Saskatoon found a fairly significantly sized (fist sized) dino bone in a wash in the ravine. The centre has reported the find to Dr Emily Bramforth, a paleontologist, and we are hoping that it will inspire a new dig or an identification in the future!

2018 -- October -- Ancient Echoes is awarded the National Trust Ecclesiastic Insurance Award for Resilient Historic Places, receiving accolades on a national scale. 3 delegates from the board traveled to Fredericton, New Brunswick, to accept the award and present at the ceremony.