‘Rosie’ the prehistoric Qualicum Beach walrus that at present sits at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. (Chris Lemphers photo)

The tale of Rosie, the famous 60,000-year-old walrus

Skeletal remains discovered in 1979 just north of Qualicum Beach

Did you know about the famous walrus by the name of Rosie [Odobenus Rosmarus] that was discovered in 1979 just north of Qualicum Beach?

Rosie, as she is fondly called, is an ice age young female walrus that has been dated at 60,000 years of age by the Canadian Museum of Nature.

That day in 1979, Bill Waterhouse was out looking for shellfish with his daughter on the beaches north of Qualicum Beach and he spotted something protruding from the sand. On closer examination, he found the skeletal remains of what he thought was a sea lion lying on its back.

His daughter was so thrilled by the find she took it to school to show her biology teacher, Graham Beard. Graham knew there was something different about this skeleton. Over the next few weeks, Graham excavated the remains and decided to consult the Canadian Museum of Nature. To his surprise, the skeleton turned out to be an ancient ice age walrus that inhabited this coast.

At the time , Qualicum Beach did not have a museum building and so the Canadian Museum of Nature took on the job of restoring and assembling this remarkable find.

Rosie’s new home would be to join the ice age displays as the only complete skeleton from the west coast of North America of this ancient sea mammal. A resin cast was made of the skull and an original leg bone was sent to the Qualicum Beach Museum about the mid-eighties, when we did have one of our earliest museum buildings.

For now, Rosie lives at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa as a ‘national’ treasure, but we are not giving up hope that in the future we may see more of Rosie as we look at repatriation in different forms.

Visitors can see the skull and leg bone of Rosie at the QB Museum among many other fascinating paleontology displays from Vancouver Island and beyond.

Our winter hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-4 p.m. Summer hours start in June and are Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit our website at www.QBMuseum.ca

Chris Lemphers is president of the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society

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