UVic Torch -- Fall 2004
Autumn 2004,
Volume 25, Number 2

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Setting the Bones Straight

RE: “Bear Bones Evidence of Early Life” ( Torch, Spring 2004). My interest in this article is more than casual since I am the individual who wrote the original proposal to conduct a palaeontological investigation of K1 cave, and who brought the first samples back to UVic.

I am the 2002 recipient of the Jubilee Medal for Social sciences, a two-time recipient of the President’s Scholarship for Part-time Studies, an NSERC PGS-A holder, and the recipient of a field experience bursary from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in 1999.

By the omission of certain facts, the article seems to imply that the discoveries at K1 were somehow the work of Daryl Fedje (of Parks Canada) and the UVic Anthropology department. This notion, which has been widely propagated, is incorrect. The original expedition to K1 in 2000 was privately funded by Paul Griffiths, who, having seen my proposal and discerned my keen interest, invited me to go along. Barring the fact that I happened to be attending UVic at the time, this expedition had no affiliation with, funding or in-kind support from either UVic or Parks Canada. (As an aside, your article erroneously states that K1 is near Gwaii Haanas Park. It is not. Nor is the second cave referred to in your article located anywhere near K1.) Though Rebecca Wigen and others at the Anthropology department were informed of the expedition well in advance, they declined to become involved. Indeed, I encountered great skepticism and a distinct lack of support in this venture from individuals in the Anthropology department. Mr. Fedje did not become involved until 2001 and was a guest of the expedition in that year.

I returned to UVic with specimens from K1 in early September of 2000, and took them almost immediately to the Anthropology department. Ms. Wigen was most helpful in identifying the specimens, but did not believe them to be very old, and I was told unequivocally that no one in the department was interested in studying them further. Convinced of their significance, I carried the specimens around in my backpack for perhaps three weeks before lodging them in another department. By the time I returned from a holiday in India some months later, the bones were in the hands of Fedje et al., and had been sent off for dating. I learned of the results second hand, through Mr. Griffiths.

Since that time, my involvement has been slowly and systematically marginalized, misrepresented and almost completely purged from the public record. This is particularly ironic in light of the fact that I produced a successful PGS-A NSERC proposal based on this material before Fedje et al. ever got involved. These individuals were well aware that I had intended to make the K1 material the subject of my master’s research. As well, there has been a consistent failure to acknowledge the crucial role that volunteer speleologists played in the discoveries and ongoing research at K1.

I have remained silent as article after article has come out implicitly attributing the K1 discoveries to the UVic Anthropology department and Fedje et al. It is time the record was set straight.

Carolyn L. Ramsey, BA ’01
Victoria

I am writing to express my concern about your article entitled "Bear Bones Evidence of Early Life.” Your article contains a blatant oversight: Ms. Carol Ramsey was present at the very outset of the work being done at K1 cave. She was the one who facilitated the involvement of the other researchers at the site—she was in fact the originator of the bone research.

She has had to watch as others have effectively taken over her original research project. What must be particularly galling to Ms. Ramsey is that her research ideas for K1 were initially met with resistance in 2000. Those earlier academic naysayers have since jumped on the K1 site, displacing her from her own research site and a promising academic research program.

Paul Griffiths, BSc ’73
Campbell River

In my enthusiasm for talking about the bones, I missed mentioning all the people who have been involved in this project. I apologize for that lapse.

My memory of the events around the early work on the bones from K1 is truthfully rather hazy. Ms. Ramsey, an undergraduate student at the time, was offered the opportunity to go on the project with Paul Griffiths. I encouraged her to go and made some suggestions about collecting any bones encountered. When she returned with the bones I did identify them, but certainly could not tell their age just by looking at them. Daryl Fedje was sufficiently interested in their potential to find money to carbon date them (an expensive procedure). We were all thrilled and surprised to find out how old some of them actually were.

I have always offered encouragement and support to undergraduate students in any project and have supported Ms. Ramsey in her pursuit of a graduate degree to the best of my ability.

Rebecca Wigen
Department of Anthropology

An Early Flight
UVic Archives photo 168.1101

From time to time I see reference in the Torch and elsewhere to the existence of an army camp at the present location of the university. I never see, however, any mention of the use of that property before the war.

I have fond memories of my first flight in an airplane at the Gordon Head airport when I was about 12 years old. It was a two-seater, open-cockpit biplane that must have gone all of 70 miles an hour, but what a thrill for a young lad! I was so small they could not adjust the seat belt to fit me, so just let me float around as they circled the field.

When the Victoria Times originally announced the flights they stated that the cost for each child would be one cent per pound. I distinctly remember asking my father for 79 cents, only to discover at the field that they had established a minimum price of one dollar. (A major investment in those days, when 10 cents would get you into a movie.) In 1932 airplanes were still relatively rare, and very few people had ever had the chance to actually fly in one. There must have been 100 kids lined up for flights that day.

Harold (Ned) Young, VC ’37
Thetford Mines, Quebec

Remembering Elza Mayhew

I was saddened to read of the death of Elza Mayhew this last January (“Coast Spirit,” Spring 2004).

On a summer day in 1932 Elza and I were entertained by the Women’s Canadian Club for “Tea” at the Empress Hotel. We had won $100 scholarships for having the highest marks for a girl and a boy graduating from high school in Victoria and district that year. Elza had better marks than I—and another girl also beat me. Sadly I’ve forgotten her name and more sadly she didn’t get a scholarship.

Elza wore a yellow dress—she was very beautiful—that reminded me of a daffodil. We were a pair of shy 16-year-olds with little to say to each other.

That $100 paid my tuition, books and streetcar fare for my first year at Victoria College

Ray Jones, VC ’33
Horsefly, BC

Correction

One of the buildings identified in the “Rhodies” feature photo in our last issue was incorrectly identified. It is All Souls College.






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