Pinto- Ichthyosauria

Pinto, Saskatchewan, Canada

From Websters Dictionary: Ichthyosaur -(derived from Gk ichthy + sauros lizard-more at saurian) any of an order of Ichthyosauria of extinct marine reptiles
With fish-shaped body and elongated snout.

The Pinto Ichthyosauria
Side view, Head to the right, tail to left
note- no trace of a top fin left

This fossil is estimated to weigh over 3 tons, it rests on a cement pad. The scale or crevices on the top, have eroded away and the top is fairly smooth.

Half Fish, Half Lizard, near Pinto?
Ichthyosaurs or ‘fish lizards’, were dolphin-like marine Reptiles with fins and a vertical tail.
They lived from the Early Triassic through to the Late Cretaceous Period.
This Marine Reptile existed along the banks of the Souris River and fossilized remains have been found near Shand, and also near Roche Percee.
It was NOT a Dinosaur as I used to think. I thought it looked like an Alligator with the long nose and all the teeth, but see now why I thought that.
Lizard shaped heads, Fish like body, and a tail made these reptiles fierce looking. It had deep crevices on the top of its body which might have been scales.
They looked like mammals of today, but were Reptiles instead. These reptiles couldn't “walk” on ground, so it amazes me how they got to the spot, where I seen it.
That little creek, the Souris River, was one heck of an ocean!

The Red Dot indicates to the best of my memory the location of the specimen described above
This is a copy of my Dad's 1927 map of this area.
I remember as a kid being taken to this fossil many times by my Dad, as well as going a few times with the Cub and Scout troops, he was leader of.
We would always go to this site by Pinto.

Picture of the old trail to where the fossil remained for eons
The Fossil was located on a short trail from the main road, before heading south out of the valley, and on the east side of this road.
For years I was told, the Natural History Museum in Regina finally came and got this specimen, before it was totally vandalized.
Over the years the head, tail and even the fins were disappearing as souvenirs.
Human beings just can't seem to leave things alone for the next generation to see them.
We have to break it apart, and put pieces on our mantels at home, to brag what a treasure we have.
It only serves as a trophy to their ignorance! I will remember these visits to this fossil till I die.
They must have been quite the reptile back between 135 and 225 million years ago.
Wished I would have taken a picture on my first visit, never mind my last!

Overhead view showing 2 side fin locations

Tail View, showing where the vertical tail has been broken off, and removed

Side view, Tail section to right, Side fin locations are visible here

I found out in Apr 2003 where this fossil was taken for safe keeping. In 2003 it was in the yard of Clarence Jahn, just east of Roche Percee.
I took these pictures May 2003. it was a real treat to see this specimen again, after almost 40 years!
Thanks to Clarence Jahn for saving the Fossil. Sad to say Clarence passed away, so now I am not sure who owns this property.
It is a must see, if your in the area. Please respect the yard and property! A big Thank-you after your visit would be appreciated I am sure.
If the privilege is abused, a gate will be installed to prevent further viewing. Please respect the permission to view.

Martin Nolan, Roche Percee miner sitting on a large fossil ca 1931-36

Link to more Scientific site than mine on this Subject
please use your back button to return here

Reading some old newspaper articles, I found out a fellow from Winnipeg / California? came through this area, and removed whatever he could carry in the way of fossils. He tried to get museums interested in going in and getting these fossils as well.

Here is the story of Mr. G. L. Dodds, in Pinto, last 6 months of 1912.
If you know exactly the name and origins of this man please let me know. until then, my educated guess is below.

I found a George L. Dodds in 1901 census living in Brandon as a Store Keeper
b- Apr 27, 1854 in ON
Irish, Presbyterian
was this him? Pretty sure it was.
CA death index shows He died Nov 8, 1938,
age 90, in San Diego Co., CA. USA
but 90 from 1938, doesn't equal 1854?
so not positive about the death year.

1881 he was married to Elizabeth Eleanor Dodds,
b- ca1853/54 in ON, Irish Methodist
d- Mar 29, 1899 in Arthur, MB, age 45

they had no children

George and Elizabeth were both living at Artemesia, Grey East, ON
George shown as Irish, Presbyterian, Occupation- Miller.

In 1930 he was living in Escondido, CA. USA area, shown age 75, born in Canada
so I am feeling more confident I have the right guy here. He is shown as a lodger with 2 ladies, almost same age as him.
Charlotte Elliott 76
Sarah A Hull 79
possibly his sisters? who knows.
I do know he had 4 other brothers who remained in Ontario, even though he moved to California

George Livingston Dodds took out a land grant on E Section 20, Township 17, Range 9, W2
1895-1898 Reeve of RM of Arthur, MB. Melita MB is in the middle of this RM

In 1906, in Winnipeg, a George Livingston Dodds wrote a book? “The Last West: the Latest Gift of the Lady Bountiful”

Article below from Sept 9, 1912.
Here we learn Mr. Dodds is a Canadian working in California. Described as a Naturalist, he predicted the finding of Oil in the area. 2 parts below

On a trip Aug 2009
I now see a new oil rig almost on the same place described almost 100 years ago here

Oct 10, 1912
Here he claims the mound builders got their clay here in Pinto.

Article below from Nov 1, 1912
Looks like he bought a section around Pinto.

Article below from Dec 7, 1912
Pictures below are from the article, quality is poor at best.
Would be nice to find a relative of Mr. Dodds today.
Looks like he removed lots of fossils from the Pinto area to Winnipeg.
The article talks about a race of people, called Mound Builders, who lived in North America at this time, and claim fossils of their skeletons were found.
Actually ancestors of the Native American people who built mounds.

He found a fossil of a Conger Eel, 6ft long. with a girth of 10 inches.
Eels like this were only found in southern California before this.
Also he found the skull of a Wart Hog, in perfect condition. He also collected many mastodon teeth.
Many pieces of petrified wood, and freak fossils, not identified.
A Greenstone Axe was found, and with it were chipped flint arrowheads. which were credited to men of the glacial period.

Great fossil tree was found at Gordon Rapids. Pinto, Part visible above the ground is 7ft in diameter.

A Plesiosaurus Dolichodeirus was also found. It was also a Sea creature with an enormous long neck, and short tail.
He found this specimen about 1/4 mile from Roche Percee. Length 30 ft, circumference 5 ft at the neck, 11 ft at the trunk.
(from the article) It roamed thru the swamps and inland seas of this continent, during the Triassic period. Then adapted themselves to sea life in the Jurassic age, taking on a tortoise form. In life the fossil below had 2 rows or horny hackles,along it's back. He found one hackle at the site, it was 38 inches long, and rose 20 inches from the spine.
This description was from Dr. F. V. Perry of Roche Percee. It was found in the strata from the Lias to the White Chalk. Now here he describes the tail as long as the body, with bony armour. The other descriptions of this creature say short tail? The body carried 2 powerful paddles, or flappers. The teeth of the monster were sharp, conical and re-curved.

Clasoselache Fyleri- (from the article) a great Shark that inhabitated the Paleozoic seas, in the Mississipian or Carboniferous period.
Found on property of Joseph Balison, the Circle B Ranch, in Gordon Canyon, near Pinto. 13 ft 2in. long without the tail, which had broken off, with a 28 inch girth, at it's widest part.

Photo below from the American Museum of Natural History in New York

After he made the discoveries, he tried many times, to get museums interested in saving these fossils. A museum in New York was interested, and to stop that move, he wrote to the Royal Ontario Museum, after failing in Manitoba to get this done.

Sept 1, 1922
Mr. Dodds claims the Souris River Valley is the old sea bottom and predicts a big oil field there. He was a student of geology for 30 years.
Royal Ontario Museum is sending Prof. Sternberg to investigate the fossils. Here he mentions Mr. Walter Langtry of Roland MB and credits him for the discoveries.
all on Section 25, 26 and Balison's farm Joseph Balison's homestead was SW Sec 22, Tsp 1, Rge 6, W2
Mr. Balison, his mother Hannah, and a Harvey John Balison, all owned land in this area.

Joseph “Joe” Balison
b- Oct 1853 in PEI
shown b- Oct 1856 in PEI per 1911 census
b- 1856 in 1891 census as well. as 1881 census
d- May 9, 1935, age 82
Joseph is shown as a farmer in 1911
Joseph's Wife- Janet (Jannett) “Jane” Balison, nee Liddle
b- ca 1864
d- May 22, 1885, age 26, in Ellice, Manitoba
married Mar 5, 1884 at Aylmer, Elgin Co. ON
She was born in Canada, living at Malahide when she married Joe
witness, William Liddle, brother?

Joseph's Daughter- Florence Janet “Janice” Balison
b- Apr 10, 1885 at Fort Ellis, RM of Ellice, Manitoba
d- Oct 14, 1942
raised by her aunt, Mary Ann Balison, Joe's sister, after her mother died, shortly after giving birth to her.
Janice's fiancé died in a coal mining accident, and she never married.
Mary's husband was Sam Frayn
Mary was b- Jan 14, 1852 in New Wiltshire, PEI
Baptized in Trinity United church in Charlottetown

Joseph's Mother- Hannah Balison, nee ?
b- Mar 1834 in PEI
Joseph's father- Richard Balison
b- ?
d- before 1911

with the family in 1911, Joseph's Nephew- Albert Balison
b- Feb 20, 1894 in SK
Joseph's brother and Albert's father- Harvey John Balison
Albert's mother- Laura Balison, nee Hill
Harvey had 2 more sons, Richard Balison and Joseph “Joe” Balison
and 2 daughters, Pansy Balison, and Leonora Louise Balison.

Looking for homesteads in Section 25 and 26, I found this name, Neil Thomas MacMillan in Section 26, with mineral rights.
If you look in the ad below, he is partnered up with Mr. Dodds. A Joseph Rinn also had mineral rights on part of Section 26. The Railroads owned all of Section 25.

May 21, 1913
Now he is selling farming equipment. with Mr. MacMillan in Winnipeg.

He at least did try and keep the fossils in Canada. He even brought in a famed Professor to check the fossils over. What happened after that is a mystery.

An Old Postcard, date unknown, labelled Petrified Shark,
donated to me by Mrs Jean Dornian, Liberty SK

This 1912 article describes the Ichthyosauria , as 14 ft long, as well as a “Dinosaur ?” Plesiosaurus Dolichodeirus 30ft long, 11 ft circumference.
2 rows of hackles, 1/4 mile from Roche Percee, described above.

Found another article dated 1925
Dcescribing a find that took place a decade earlier, but at the time they thought it was new news.


  • Last modified: 2018/02/20 12:09
  • by dlgent