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Manitoba Tyndall Stone achieves status as Global Heritage Stone Resource through collaborative efforts of University of Saskatchewan and Manitoba Museum

A crew cuts Tyndall Stone blocks out of the solid bedrock at Gillis Quarries, in Garson. Photo: Graham Young/Manitoba Museum

(Winnipeg, MB: January 24, 2023) – A type of stone quarried only in Manitoba has found international recognition as a designated Global Heritage Stone Resource by the Subcommission on Heritage Stones. This designation provides recognition to dimension stones that have broad significance to humanity. Tyndall Stone is the only Canadian stone on this list, and it becomes a member of a select group that also includes Carrara Marble (Italy), Deccan Basalt (India) and Portland Stone (UK).
The nomination process was spearheaded by Dr. Brian Pratt of the University of Saskatchewan, assisted by Dr. Graham Young, Curator of Geology & Paleontology at the Manitoba Museum.
Tyndall Stone has long been recognized within Canada as a premier building stone,” says Dr. Young. “It is treasured both by people involved with architecture and construction, and by those of us who study the rocks and fossils of Manitoba. Since it is such a wonderfully useful material, it seemed long past the time that it should also receive international recognition, listing it with peers such as Italian Carrara marble (used in ancient Rome) and Indian Makrana marble (used in the Taj Mahal).”

The Subcommission on Heritage Stones, which is part of the International Commission on Geoheritage, is under the auspices of the International Union of the Geological Sciences; its purpose is to raise awareness of culturally significant building stones, and in doing so, increase knowledge and encourage conservation and protection of extraction sites.
 “As of early 2022, there were 22 stones designated as Global Heritage Stone Resources, and ten more were added in December 2022,” says Dr. Pratt, who has been a member of the Subcommission since 2016. “The nomination process involves a comprehensive, detailed checklist which provides the geological context and architectural uses. Tyndall Stone was an obvious candidate to be the first Canadian stone nominated because of its unique appearance and its widespread use, for example for the exterior cladding of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan legislative buildings and the interior of Centre Block on Parliament Hill.”

Tyndall Stone was used in the construction of many of our important heritage buildings, such as the Old Law Courts Building (R) and Land Titles Building (L) on Broadway Avenue in Winnipeg. Photo: Graham Young/Manitoba Museum

Tyndall Stone has been used in building as a dimension stone since the turn of the 20th century. In addition to the iconic legislative buildings in Regina and Winnipeg, monumental buildings using Tyndall Stone that were constructed in the first decades of the 20th century are distinctive elements in the centres of these and other cities and towns. These buildings, constructed when the prairie provinces were growing rapidly in population prior to the Depression, have stood the test of time and are in good condition, lending a sense of permanence. Cities and larger towns now have historical or heritage societies and, in collaboration with various levels of government, many of these buildings have been designated as heritage properties and are protected.

Tyndall Stone is a fossiliferous stone, containing abundant fossils of marine organisms such as corals, sponges, giant cephalopods (relatives of squids and octopus), trilobites (relatives of crabs and spiders), and many other forms. These date from the Ordovician Period of geological time, and lived in a tropical sea that extended across what is now North America, from Texas to Greenland, about 450 million years ago.

Tyndall Stone is characterized by its beautiful mottled appearance, and fossils such as this receptaculitid (a member of an extinct group). Because of the mottles, Tyndall Stone has sometimes been called a “tapestry stone.” Photo: Graham Young/Manitoba Museum


“For many decades, Gillis Quarries has generously provided research and collecting access to paleontologists from the Manitoba Museum, and to other scientists. Tyndall Stone is a treasure trove of fossils of Ordovician age, and thanks to the access we have been provided, the Museum has built an important collection of these fossils, which are used for scientific research, exhibits, and programs. Gillis Quarries was also very supportive of the Museum when we developed an exhibit on the history of quarrying, and the fossil panels in our foyer,” says Seema Hollenberg, Manitoba Museum’s Director of Research, Collections and Exhibits.

Tyndall Stone is a trade name that has been in use since the early 20th century, soon after quarries were opened at Garson, Manitoba, in 1895. The name is now trademarked by Gillis Quarries Ltd.




Media Contact: 

Brandi Hayberg
Manager of Marketing & Communications
Manitoba Museum
[email protected]