Into the Dinosaurs' Graveyard: Canadian Digs and Discoveries


305 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-385-25762-7
DDC 567.9'0971





Reviewed by William A. Waiser

Bill Waiser is a professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan.
He is the author of Saskatchewan’s Playground: A History of Prince
Albert National Park and Park Prisoners: The Untold Story of Western
Canada’s National Parks, 1915–1946.  Hi


In the last decade, it seems the North American public has gone dinosaur
crazy. But what has generally been lost in all the hype surrounding T.
Rex and other prehistorical luminaries is the painstaking search for
skeletons and other paleontological clues—a search that was carried
out in isolated parts of the continent during the past century. Nowhere
was this pioneering fieldwork more important in Canada than in southern
Alberta and, to a lesser extent, southern Saskatchewan.

Into the Dinosaurs’ Graveyard seeks to explain the Canadian
contribution to the study of dinosaurs, with particular emphasis on the
Albertan story. Author David Spalding, former head curator of natural
history at the Provincial Museum of Alberta, provides an engaging
overview of the Canadian search for dinosaur remains—initially by
officers of the Geological Survey of Canada and later by scientists
associated with the National Museum of Canada. He explains how, by the
early 20th century, the hunt for bones came to be concentrated in the
Albertan badlands, especially along the steep banks of the Red Deer
River, and describes the nature and extent of the discoveries.
Ironically, it was not until after World War II that it was possible to
view Western Canadian specimens on display in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Even then, the decision to locate the new Tyrrell Museum of
Palaeontology in Drumheller was not without its critics; some argued
that it should have been placed in Dinosaur Provincial Park, the site of
many of the important finds in the 20th century.

Into the Dinosaurs’ Graveyard could have been better organized. The
chapters dealing with Canada’s dinosaurs, including their life cycle
and possible causes of extinction, are found halfway through the text.
It would have made more sense to have placed this material at the
beginning—before the search for answers. In general, though, Spalding
has provided an accessible, informative account of Canada’s dinosaur
past, and it should be read by anyone seeking a general introduction to
the topic and its complexities.


Spalding, David A.E., “Into the Dinosaurs' Graveyard: Canadian Digs and Discoveries,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,