A family that digs together

Forest Hill father-and-son team deals in fossils

Under the watchful eye of the Royal Ontario Museum’s barosaurus skeleton, Peter Lovisek talks about the father-and-son business he’s part of. It’s one that sheds light on buried history.

The 30-year-old is co-owner of Fossil Realm, a company that showcases the fossil and mineral collections of the Loviseks, a family deeply rooted in the Bathurst and St. Clair neighbourhood.

Four years ago, Peter and his father Jim, 64, purchased a warehouse in Vaughan to display their plethora of historical artefacts. They had an open house at the end of September and have another set for Nov. 29-30.

“I think that sometimes people remark that our place is like a mini-museum,” Peter Lovisek said, in a recent interview. “Museums are very particular about the pieces that they want, so even some of our more impressive fossils might be relatively common or isn’t scientifically important.”

The centrepiece of their collection is a complete skull, which was a marine reptile from the late Cretaceous period, some 66 million years ago.

Even though the younger Lovisek is steeped in palaeontology, his academic background is biological psychology.

It was after university, when he was rolling the bones on his vocational future, that he decided to join with his dad on the fossil collectors circuit. He had been attending the Bancroft Jamboree building and selling his own collection, but never thought of it as a full-time gig.

“I had to make the hard decision of should I go to grad school for psychology or should I do Fossil Realm,” he said. “It was a hard decision, because I’m an academically inclined person and I think graduate school would have been a good fit for me.

“But the business has a kind of excitement to it, and it is a passion of mine as well.”

His parents have always been entrenched in natural history, as Jim was under contract with the ROM, and mom Elizabeth Komisar was a teacher. Jim has appeared on Storage Wars Canada, as a fossil appraiser, and on Four Rooms as a guest selling a rare heteromorphic ammonite. Jessica Lindsay Phillips purchased the spiky cephalopod for $12,000.

Peter’s parents also founded the Toronto Nature Centre, a camp dedicated to natural history.

It’s from there Peter recalls a scenario that has become one of his warmest memories: teaching fellow campers about the apatosaurus’ history. He drew a picture of the dinosaur with the original skull (when it was known as the brontosaurus), and a flap over top with the real skull.

“That was one of the most fun projects I remember doing as a kid,” he said.

And it’s exposing youngsters to the fossil world that always digs up great excitement for Lovisek.

“I think being able to own something small, even if it’s a $5 little trilobite fossil, that will affect a kid greatly,” he said. “I know personally, from my experience, there’s a sense of awe that’s produced when holding it in your hand.”

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Posted: Oct 8 2014 5:56 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto