When, Where, and How to Attend

This unique four day event will be held from August 29th to September 1st in the heart of the spectacular Canadian Rockies at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Arrivals day is August 29th, with an opening keynote that evening. The Trek to the Burgess Shale will take place on August 30th (weather permitting) with an alternate program available. Conference workshops will be held on August 31st and September 1st with a closing keynote on the evening of September 1st. See information below on registering and arranging for your accomodations and meals and transportation to and from Banff.

The opening and closing keynotes are open to the public for a small admission charge. Those intending to go on the trek to the Burgess Shale must sign up in advance. Trek spots will be limited to 30 people, first come first served. Burgess Shale trek participants are encouraged to arrive one or two days early to acclimatize. Burgess Shale trekkers must read and comply with the Burgess Shale Trek Guidelines. There will be an alternate program at the Emerald Lake Lodge.

Win a complimentary tuition to Digital Burgess, submit to our VRML Cambrian Creatues Competition.

Who Should Attend

The Digital Burgess Conference will provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of ideas between natural scientists, computer scientists, and artists. Discussions will be interspersed with presentations on evolution and demonstrations of digital tools that model organisms and living systems. This conference will provide an environment for the exploration of novel research and artistic directions.


For Registration and On Site Accomodation Information contact:

Tuition: $495 US, $648 Cdn.

For additional registration information see the Registration Section on the Multimedia Institute programs page.

Accomodations and Meals

All attendees to Digital Burgess, unless specially arranged, are responsible for their own accomodations and meals. Note that prices are all listed in Canadian dollars which are roughly equivalent to 75 cents US.

Accomodations are available on the Banff Centre campus at the Workshop Rate of $74.90 per day including tax or if two people are sharing a room, the rate is $42 per person plus tax. Children 12 and under free.

The following meal packages are available:

Lunches will be provided for the Burgess Shale trail trek and alternate program.

If you want to pay cash, the prices for buffet style meals are as follows:

More luxurious accomodations are available in the Banff Centre's Professional Development Building at $172.50 per night plus tax. If you wish to stay off campus, there are several hotels in Banff, including the Banff Springs Hotel (luxury), other downtown hotels or the Hidden Ridge somewhat out of town (which has kitchens). Booking early is recommended as the Banff area is a very popular tourist destination for that time of year. If you stay off site you are responsible for your transportation to the Banff Centre.

Transportation to and from Banff

Fly into Calgary International Airport or if you are coming by road, take the trans-Canada highway (route 1). Other than renting a car, there are buses that travel from the airport to Banff on a regular basis. The trip will take approximately two hours by bus, less time by car. If driving by car, you will be required to pay a visitors fee upon entering Banff National Park.

Bus service options to and from Calgary International Airport (all prices one way in Canadian dollars):

Ask about bus schedules for the return to Calgary when you book your outgoing trip.

Speakers and Presenters

Persons interested in being invited as speakers or supporting the technology showcase should contact Bruce Damer at the Contact Consortium by email at: our Webmaster. Information about Digital Burgess is available on the World Wide Web at:

Media Attendance

There will be limited capacity for high calibre media coverage. Media coordination is being carried out by Martin Kemp at the Banff Centre, email Martin Kemp at: Martin_Kemp@BanffCentre.AB.CA.

Guided Trek to the Burgess Shale

Small view of Burgess Shale
Click here to experience
a visit to the Burgess Shale

Registering for the Burgess Treks

General requirements: You must sign a Waiver and provide proof of insurance (see the section below) or you will not be permitted to take the hike. You may not bring along someone who is not registered for the hike. Preference will be given to people registered for the Digital Burgess conference. Secondary preference will be given to media and staff. There will be three periods in which Burgess Shale Treks will be available, accomodating up to 57 people in total NOTE: TREK 1 is now FULL , reserve your spot in Trek 2 or the Arrivals Day trek (see below). If you do not hike on August 30th, you will be able to participate in the alternate Emerald Lake Lodge program on August 30th:

Everyone that intends to go on the guided hike to the Burgess Shale should be in reasonably good shape. We will be meeting Des Collins and his fieldwork team from the Royal Ontario Museum at the site and should see some interesting new finds from their season of work on the Shale. Arriving a day or two early to get acclimatized helps with handling the altitude. You must let us know when you register if you intend to participate in the trip to the Shale. Please look over the physical requirements below before you commit to this. There will be an alternate program available.

The trip

The trail is well maintained all the way. Heavy hiking boots are not required but good and comfortable - well broken in shoes are a must. The elevation of the town of Field is 4000 feet, the elevation of Takakkaw Falls (at the start of the trail) is just at 5000 feet. The standard route leaving from Takakkaw Falls is a three thousand foot elevation gain. The total distance we will hike round trip is twenty kilometres. Access from the trail to the actual quarry itself is extremely steep but short (approximately 100 metres). The bus will leave from the Banff Centre at 7:00am. A box lunch will be provided. You should bring a ruck sack or other backpack and plenty of water. More details on proper clothing below. Th first group of 15 will depart on the trail just after 8:00am and the second group of 15 will depart at 9:00am. Arrival at the quarry site will be around noon. Depending on the enthusiasm of the group and the depth of questions the stay at the quarry site will be between one to two hours. Descent to field, the bus will pick us up there at 6:30 to 7:00pm and bring us back to the Banff Centre, along with the group from Emerald Lake Lodge. A BBQ dinner will be hosted that evening.

The environs

We will take the hike in measured segments with stops to outline nearby geological formations and landforms, structural geology, the stratigraphy, sedimentations/folding and other background on the geology. The scenery is stunning and worth every inch of the effort to get there. You cannot be more nestled into the heart of the Rockies than if you were a Burgess Shale fossil yourself. Coming down is the hardest part of the hike (especially on the knees).

The preparations

Come prepared with a good lightweight windbreaker jacket (which is truly waterproof). In addition, a sweater and one or two layers of undergarments, especially synthetic thermal underware (cotton gets soaked and will give you a chill) are recommended as well as a hat and lots of water. A small rucksack is a good way to carry extra clothing, water, energy snacks, cameras etc. It is recommended that you hike with your hands free. The weather can change suddenly in these mountains but the day of the hike (August 30th) has been known to be in a good weather period. Again, Gore-tex jackets and thermal synthetic underware (not cotton) are good choices. The key to clothing is to be able to strip off layers if you get too hot.

Waiver and Proof of Insurance

Trek participants will be required to sign a waiver of claims and provide proof of medical/hospital insurance coverage in Canada. Medical/hospital travel insurance can be obtained at reasonable rates from firms such as Lloyds, Barclays, TravelGard, Mutual of Omaha, Access America and others. Insurance should be taken out for a period including at least a week following the end of the conference to cover possible hospital stay.

Behavior at the Walcott Quarry

Fossils may be picked up but must be replaced in the location found. We encourage you to take fossils for interpretation to the experts present but ask all attendees to respect the fact that there is active fieldwork going on at the site. Fossils may not be taken off the site and such activity is punishable by arrest followed by a court appearance, fine and possible deportation. The Burgess Shale is a U.N. World Heritage site and a restricted area under Parks Canada regulations.

Alternate Program to Burgess Trek at Emerald Lake Lodge

An event on the Burgess Shale will be held at Emerald Lake Lodge for those who are not to going on the August 30th trek. A lecture, slide show and plenty of specimens will be part of this presentation. Emerald Lake Lodge lies at the bottom of the valley beneath the Burgess Shale. There is a perfect viewing spot from the balcony of the Lodge from which to see the Walcott Quarry. A Burgess Shale Slide Show/Lecture and lunch will be provided for up to 15 people. As a great but gentle way to experience the alpine outdoors, there will be a hike around the gorgeous Emerald Lake. The alternate venue will also be used in the case of cancellation of the August 30th trek due to weather or bears.

Contact the Banff Centre at 1 (403) 762-6180 or 1 (800) 565-9989 to get on the Aug 30th Emerald Lake Lodge program.

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