40 years of making memories at Prehistoric World

RIVERSIDE HEIGHTS – In recognition of Prehistoric World’s 40th anniversary, Leader staff shared their own first-person experiences and memories of the unique local destination. Many people may have Prehistoric World memories of their own so anyone who wants to share those memories in writing is welcome to send them to newsroom@morrisburgleader.ca. Some may be selected for publication.

What lurks in the wilderness…

Wendy Gibb –  I’ve lived in this area for many years now, and I’ve taken in almost all of the local “fascinating places.” Yet there was one place I had never been until just this summer – Prehistoric World on Upper Canada Road. I’m sorry I waited so long to enjoy what I now think of as a grand adventure in the jungles of a lost world.

When you enter Prehistoric World, you set off on a stone-cobbled walkway, past sunny, grassy open areas set with picnic tables and pretty flowers. The path winds into the trees. And then, just moments later, you sense that you have left the modern earth behind: you have entered another world, one that has not been seen for millions of years.

The trees and ferns grow tall and green, with dappled sunlight and shadows playing all around the pathway.

It truly does feel like an ancient jungle as you wander farther and farther in, and strangely quiet. The mood is set. You are almost – almost! – not surprised when you round a corner and come face to face with your very first Nodosaurus, heavy armoured plates covering his lizard-like body, his stubby feet firmly planted as he stares at you. And round another corner, head gracefully lifted high above the very tree tops, is a gigantic, calm dinosaur. (Still, you find yourself grateful that he was a plant eater.)

There are new, wonderful creatures at every turn in this amazing World.

I cannot recall the names of them all (although the park provides very helpful signs that tell you the scientific name of each beast and some of the known facts about it), but it was simply a delight to ‘meet’ them. Look up, and it appears that a pterodactyl is flapping its reptilian wings in the sky above you. Round another corner, and a creature that looks like a nasty cross between a hippo and a wolf, with fangs the length of your arm, stares at you in a fixed snarl. Some dinosaurs are small, almost cute, standing upright like some kind of prehistoric kangaroos: there is a temptation to reach out and shake hands with them. No such friendly impulse will move you, however, when you come into the clearing where the huge Tyrannosaurus Rex, tiny arms reaching, giant fangs bared, towers above you. You are strangely thankful he’s a model.

There is much to see in Prehistoric World.

Children stare up at the giant lost creatures, wonder on their faces. They ask all kinds of questions. And they love to pose at the clawed feet of some of their favourite ‘saurs. Adults are just as fascinated – I certainly was. It really is a step back in time to explore a world that once was, and will never come again. I thoroughly enjoyed my journey to Prehistoric World: I look forward to going again.

Fascination fuels imagination…

Phillip Blancher – I was in Grade 3 (1985) at Escott Public School. Our teacher, Mr. Paul, decided that a visit to Upper Canada Village was to be our year-end class field trip.

The trip included stopping at Prehistoric World so our class could each lunch. I don’t remember any part of the UCV portion of the trip, all I remember is Prehistoric World. For an eight year old, looking up at these monstrous dinosaurs was so cool. Being able to walk/run around/through the legs of some of these massive beasts fueled my overactive imagination for weeks after.

Years later when Isabell and I moved to Morrisburg, taking our four young kids to Prehistoric World was a regular occurrence the first few summers we lived here. I missed some of that with work. Every time, the kids always wanted to go back for more adventures.

Last year I had the opportunity to go back for the first time in 15 years. For a couple of hours I wandered about in a nostalgic haze, through and around the dinosaur legs like I was an eight year old kid again. Such a cool place to return to – and my overactive imagination remained fueled for weeks after.

Unforgettable journey…

Rebecca Comfort – Everyone has a favourite repertoire of personal experience stories that they like to share and for me one of those favourite stories is set at a popular local attraction that is now 40 years old – Prehistoric World.

My family didn’t move to South Dundas until I was about 8 years old, so Prehistoric World was not on my childhood radar.

I knew it existed, but my first visit didn’t actually occur until I was the parent of a two year old with a budding dinosaur fascination.

We knew just what to do – we packed a lunch, and more importantly, bug spray and headed off to Prehistoric World for the day.

It goes without saying the impressive dinosaur statues scattered throughout the woods made for a wondrous and magical day for a two-year old. And an incredible day for the two doting parents witnessing their child’s wonder.

For a mom, who isn’t crazy about nature, more specifically the creatures that live in it, it was still a great day.

But being unreasonably afraid of snakes, the walk had me on high alert, scanning constantly so I wouldn’t be surprised by the lurking creatures.

We made it through the entire day, without even a sighting – whew. Deep breath, crisis averted.

After we enjoyed our picnic lunch, the two-year-old alerted us that we needed to make a quick pit stop. With a two year-old, this momma knew quick action was necessary so I scooped her up heading straight to the open washroom door.

As we headed into the door we were met, by what I remember as the largest snake I have ever seen coming out the washroom door we were headed toward.

At that moment I made an about face, fully abandoning my mission.

A quick hand off to daddy, I left him to handle the situation, because there was no way I was going in that washroom ever, ever, ever again!

Since then, I have been back a couple of times, and both times I was pleased to see an out of order sign on that washroom door. (Note: suitable facilities are available on site for those who are more rational than I.)

My ensuing visits to enjoy the Prehistoric World with nieces and nephews, and sharing the wonder of the site with them, have proven to be just as fantastical as ever.

The low key, relaxing nature walk is always charming, and one I would recommend to anyone.

Since you’re here…

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