Archives

The P.E.I. 'expert on Egyptology' who built a replica of King Tut's tomb

It was likely the only part of Prince Edward Island where it made sense to wear a pith helmet.

Bart Bourne got the idea for his recreated tomb after serving on a peacekeeping mission

In 1986, The National visited Bart Bourne's replica of King Tut's tomb. 2:39

It was likely the only part of Prince Edward Island where it made sense to wear a pith helmet.

That would be the underground location of the highly detailed replica of King Tutankhamen's tomb, which Bart Bourne built in Cavendish, P.E.I., more than 30 years ago.

And why choose P.E.I. for this particular and peculiar tourist attraction?

"The main reason it's here is I happen to live here," Bourne explained, during an interview that aired on The National on Jan. 13, 1986.

Bart Bourne built a replica of King Tut's tomb in P.E.I. in the 1980s. (The National/CBC Archives)

Bourne, then a captain in the Canadian Armed Forces, gave The National's Dan Bjarnason a tour of the replica tomb.

"Bart got this brainstorm while serving as a pilot with a UN peacekeeping mission in Egypt," said Bjarnason, giving the viewers at home some sense of why Bourne was compelled to undertake such an unusual project.

'It must make some sense'

The National's Dan Bjarnason reported that 17,000 people had paid to get a look at Bart Bourne's replica version of King Tutankhamen's tomb in P.E.I. (The National/CBC Archives)

Viewers saw footage of Bourne's carefully recreated burial site of the famed boy king of ancient Egypt.

"He's made duplicates of Egyptian treasures that could fool everyone but the experts," said Bjarnason. "It must make some sense: 17,000 people paid $2.75 a head last summer to get a taste of the mystical past."

Bjarnason pointed out that those who paid a little bit more got a pith helmet to take home.

The people watching The National also learned that Bourne was most proud of King Tut's coffin, which was on display under glass at the P.E.I. site.

"I guess I'm the resident expert on Egyptology on the island, because I read a lot of books on the subject," said Bourne. "And I spent about 500 hours building the coffin itself."

Bart Bourne said he spent "about 500 hours" working on his replica version of King Tutankhamen's coffin. (The National/CBC Archives)

The National's report also dug out one more treasure from the interview with Bourne — what the King Tut enthusiast planned to do next.

Bourne said he was working on a full-size replica of the space shuttle Columbia, made out of fibreglass, which viewers got a sneak peek of.

That shuttle replica would become a recognizable part of a theme park that later opened in P.E.I.

Bart Bourne is seen walking along the side of the replica space shuttle he built in Prince Edward Island in the 1980s. (The National/CBC Archives)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.