The East Kootenay region on the south-eastern edge of British Columbia is a land of colossal mountains against a clear blue sky. I've been heading to the Cranbrook and Fernie area since the early 1990s. My interest is the local geology and fossil history that these rocks have to tell. I'm also drawn to the warm and welcoming locals who share a love for the land and palaeontological treasures that open a window to our ancient past.
Cranbrook is the largest community in the region and is steeped in mining history and the opening of the west by the railway. It is also a stone's throw away from Fort Steele and the Lower Cambrian exposures of the Eager Formation. These fossil beds rival the slightly younger Burgess Shale fauna and while less varied, produce wonderful examples of olenellid trilobites and weird and wonderful arthropods nearly half a billion years old. The Lower Cambrian Eager Formation outcrops at a few localities close to Fort Steele, many known since the early 1920s, and up near Mount Grainger near the highway.
Further east, the Upper Cambrian McKay Group near Tanglefoot Mountain is a palaeontological delight with fifteen known outcrops that have produced some of the best-preserved and varied trilobites in the province — many of them new species. The McKay Formation also includes Ordovician outcrops sprinkled in for good measure.
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