A local legend in paleontology is now the recipient of a major national honour.

Philip Currie was given the lifetime achievement award from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in Ottawa on Wednesday night.

"It's a big surprise of course, and you can't help but feel humbled by the whole thing because, you know, the reality is that I do what I do because I love doing it," Currie said.

The University of Alberta professor helped found the Royal Tyrrell Museum and was given the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2010.

Currie continues his paleontology work from all corners of the globe, but says his most memorable moment was in 1987 when he found fossilized embryos in Alberta.

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An artist's rendition depicts the future Philip Currie Dinosaur Museum near Grande Prairie, Alta. ((Courtesy Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative))

"I was so excited that day, I felt like a kid again. Crawling up the hill, I saw an egg in the hillside. And that was exciting enough, except that the egg was broken open and inside you could see all these little baby bones," Currie said.

The Phillip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is slated to open in northern Alberta in July.