Fossilized turtle shell, thousands of years old. Photo: Courtesy of Sid van der Meer
Sid van der Meer has lived in Beaver Creek, Yukon since 1997. He’s made a comfortable home for himself, and a charming museum for friends and visitors. His collectables can be found in both his museum and his home.
As you walk in the front door of van der Meer’s home, you are greeted by all sorts of fascinating antiques. There is a small display area close to the front door to show off some of his most interesting and delicate pieces.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small treasures displayed on the shelves in van der Meer’s home. As he goes shelf to shelf, he talks about his favourites. He pauses at a shelf dedicated to fossils he traded for, bought, or found. He picks up a pie-sized fossil and begins to tell its story.
“ We (the previous owner of the fossil and van der Meer) decided to do a trade,” he explains. “I traded an old fridge for it from Alberta. It was (carbon dated) at the Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. That place is world famous for dinosaurs.” Gently passing the fossil to me, he excitedly says, “They dated it at 37 million years-old; that turtle is 37 million years-old!”
It is heavy and very much stone, but the shell of the turtle can still be seen. This fossil is extremely exciting to see and to hold.
“ I just wanted to add it to my collection and have had it ever since,” he says.
The fossil itself is from Nebraska, and has a certificate of authenticity from the Royal Tyrrell Museum. This turtle would have lived in either the Eocene Epoch or Oligocene Epoch. The fossilization of the turtle’s shell allows it to be easily recognizable today.
“ It still looks like a turtle.”
Van der Meer shows me the indentation on both the turtle’s shell as well as the underbelly of the fossilized turtle.
“ Makes for a good pet because I don’t have to feed it,” he says.
He takes the 37 million year-old fossilized turtle from me and places it next to a large ammonite fossil. His collection never ceases to amaze me or his visitors and guests.
Not many people can say they’ve seen a fossilized turtle, and less can say they own one, but van der Meer can.
Sid van der Meer welcomes everyone to his Bordertown Garage & Museum, which will reopen in April 2015.