Oldest known flowing water finds a home in Ottawa: Ingenium acquires one of the oldest museum artifacts in the world

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 this glass bottle of ancient water is a sample of the oldest flowing water ever discovered

OTTAWA, ON, November 28, 2020 – One of the oldest museum artifacts in the world has been added to a world class collection of science and technology – at Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation.

At more than a billion years old, this glass bottle of ancient water is a sample of the oldest flowing water ever discovered. An example of a recent Canadian discovery and innovation, this outstanding piece of heritage, accompanied by some of the tools that were used during the collection and analysis of the sample, will be housed in the Ingenium Centre where it can remain accessible for research, interpretation, and collection development.

Quick Facts

  • The water was collected in 2009 from the Kidd Creek Mine, near Timmins Ontario, at approximately 2.4 km below the earth’s surface by University of Toronto geochemist, Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar.
  • Sherwood Lollar and her lab analysed the water and discovered that the mean residence time is more than ten times older than what was then considered to be the oldest known water.
  • Some components of the water are older yet: this ancient water bears witness to the time before the great oxidation event, before the earth drew its first breath.
  • In addition to the water sample, the acquisition includes a sample of the type of rock that the chemolithotrophic (literally rock-eating) microbes in the water "eat", and several items that were used in the collection and analysis of the water sample.

Quotes
“The Government of Canada was pleased to learn of Ingenium’s recent acquisition of one of the oldest museum artifacts in the world,” said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “The glass of ancient water is an outstanding piece of history and a symbol of great Canadian discovery. We are proud that it has been added to our heritage collections so that generations of Canadians can learn of its historical and cultural significance.”
-The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Ingenium is thrilled to welcome this one-of-a-kind discovery into our exceptional collection. We take great pride in having the privilege to care for this outstanding piece of world heritage that represents an incredible Canadian contribution to science and innovation on a global scale.”
-Christina Tessier, President and CEO, Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation

For further details
A fact sheet, hi-res images and informative video are available for download here.

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Contact
Christine Clouthier
Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation
cclouthier@IngeniumCanada.org
613-410-5943

About Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation
Ingenium celebrates the innovative spirit of Canadians by telling the stories of those who dared to think differently. Inspired by the power of ingenuity, Ingenium encompasses three national institutions: the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. These three museums are places where the past meets the future, with spaces where visitors can learn and explore, play and discover. Ingenium continues to evolve — the brand new Ingenium Centre houses Canada’s science and technology collection, a research institute, and a digital innovation lab, all designed to protect priceless Canadian heritage artifacts for the benefit of many generations to come. Beyond the physical walls of its museums, Ingenium’s engaging digital content, outreach programs and travelling exhibitions serve to educate, entertain, and engage audiences across Canada and around the world.