Vandals are mere rocks in the road for Saskatchewan entrepreneur

How a young entrepreneur and rock hound uncovered a wealth of inspiration and support from beyond his small Saskatchewan town.

by Elizabeth James
Judah Tyreman is the curator at the Sesula Mineral and Gem Museum in Radisson, Saskatchewan.

Judah Tyreman is the curator at the Sesula Mineral and Gem Museum in Radisson, Saskatchewan. — Photo courtesy Chris and Judah Tyreman

When curator Judah Tyreman saw the damage vandals had done to the family’s Sesula Mineral and Gem Museum and Rock Shop, his first reaction was despair, but within minutes of calling local RCMP, his entrepreneurial spirit kicked in.

“I just knew that, once the police had the evidence they needed, we had to get it all cleaned up—so that’s what Mom and I did,” he said.

Mom? Yes, Mom, because this Radisson, Saskatchewan entrepreneur was just 13 years old when, overnight on March 11, 2018, thieves broke into the store, stole $6,000 to $8,000 of jewelry and unique rocks and left other items strewn on the floor and sidewalk outside.

What Judah was yet to discover was that the trashing would have an unbelievable effect that’s 180 degrees away from what the vandals likely expected . . . it brought a supportive world to his doorstep.

A photo of bumblebee jasper

A rare stone from Indonesia, bumblebee jasper is one of Judah's favourite rocks. — Photo courtesy Chris and Judah Tyreman

“It’s amazing!” Judah exclaimed. “Since the news broke, it’s gone viral; we’ve had phone calls, emails and Facebook texts from all across North America, even some from as far away as Australia.”

Many of those strangers have eagerly offered Judah specimens from their own collections or otherwise begun long-distance friendships throughout the world of rocks and earth sciences.

His rocky origins

Judah, who isn’t yet sure whether he wants to be a geologist, a teacher or a combination of the two, was fascinated with rocks at a very early age. So much so, his parents gave him a rock tumbler so he could polish the tubfuls of specimens he was collecting. With that encouragement, Judah decided to mow lawns to earn money to invest in more rocks. “That kid can mow lawns like nobody else I know,” said Chris, Judah's father.

Judah’s other major influence was a friend, neighbour and fellow rock collector, Stewart Sesula. Not only did the two spend many hours studying and marveling at the stones in their collections, but when quadriplegic Stewart sadly succumbed to double pneumonia, his widow, Kim, had no second thoughts about giving his huge collection to Judah.

A photo of Madagascar agate

Madagascar agate is a form of quartz and is another one of Judah's favourite rocks. — Photo courtesy Chris and Judah Tyreman

“That was when my Dad, my younger sister, Avi, and I decided to start the rock museum and name it in Stewart’s honour,” Judah said. “Even though Avi and I hope to do most of the work in the store, my Dad and Mom have really supported us with advice, and when we formed the partnership, we needed to have Dad’s name on the papers before we could register the company name.”

Judah plans to keep managing the store and collecting for a new display—Mining in Saskatchewan—as well as taking his displays on the road to teach everyone he meets about the fascinating world of rocks. And while he’s following that star, Avi has set her own sights on owning a building and coffee shop/restaurant in their small hometown.

And the moral of the story

When life looks its grimmest and regardless of age, true entrepreneurs just keep getting up and carrying on because usually there really is a silver lining on the other side of the rocks strewn in their path.

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