It was a case of looking for a tourist attraction that would appeal to both young and old and a little bit different, not just another museum.
I had been to the Bonnechere Caves before, but not recently. My sometimes inaccurate memory thinks I was there when the attraction first opened near Eganville, Ontario, in 1965.
I had mixed feelings about the visit. Perhaps I had higher expectations. There wasn’t much science involved, but that didn’t surprise me. This is an attraction geared for the average person, so there’s not much there if you are a science geek. But even more so, I was expecting something more. I had thought (and maybe it is a memory issue) that the caves were going to be much bigger. I am pretty sure that in 1965 there were plans to open more passageways to the public. That hasn’t happened.
On a hot summer day the caves are a welcome relief. Underground the temperature is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, so refreshing when it is 30 aboveground. Before you are allowed to enter you get a brief lecture of fossils and what you are about to see. Maybe I was not in the right food – it seemed a little superficial to me. Of perhaps I am prejudiced – the tour was being conducted by a local high school student, not a scientist, who was repeating what she had been told.
The Bonnechere Caves are an attraction that I think is more for children and adults. Or maybe just a one-time thing. There is a sense of wonder involved, especially for the younger visitors. For me though, it seemed to be more of the same. I don’t know if that is because my memory of my earlier visit more than 50 years previously was still fresh in my mind, or that I needed more in writing to be fully engaged in the visit. Tours are all well and good, but I am addicted to the printed word.
Maybe the lack of print is part of the attraction. Not everyone has my bias. The tour guides do a god job of explaining the fossils and the caves, and make the tour interesting. (You haven’t really experienced what dark is before until they turn out the lights.) Certainly everyone in my group enjoyed the experience.
The Caves are a seasonal attraction, May through October. In the winter the pumps (and lights) are turned off and nature takes it course, flooding the area. I gather that helps preserve the fossils. Certainly they are an attraction worth seeing once, especially if you are in the area, but I don’t see them as a place for repeat visits. For those I’ll stick to museums.