Rockhounding in Hastings County

Each year Bancroft – a.k.a The Mineral Capital of Canada - draws a crowd of geology enthusiasts and mineral collectors eager to visit the Gem and Mineral Museum, as well as experience a day outdoors looking for unique minerals. Bancroft and District Chamber of Commerce is located in the Bancroft Railway Station where the Chamber’s Mineral Collecting Tour begins and where the group gathers to register at 9 a.m. before taking a guided tour of the museum.

Recently I learned that Rockhounding is “the activity of searching and collecting rocks” (collinsdictionary.com); naturally I wanted to learn more about it and spend a whole day outside looking for treasures on a guided mineral tour. How exciting!

The expedition’s guide Bryan Bolton, was a student geologist and an Earth Resource Technician graduate. Ever since he was a little child Bryan had an interest in geology, cavern and caves, but his passion for rockhounding had only began over the last couple of years.

 “As a Fleming student I went out in field trips to look for, and identifying minerals”, said Bryan, as he got ready to start the tour. Bryan explained that at least 300 different types of minerals can be specifically found in Bancroft. Other resources talk about 1600 types in the region at large. Then he described how two continents have collided, driven by convention. With heat and pressure, magma intruded near the surface and rocks have formed in the scar zones. Metamorphic rocks. The samples showcased in the mineral museum gave us a good idea of the variety of rock formations around and underneath us. It was fascinating and mesmerizing to look at all the shiny objects.

The tour’s schedule included visits to three collecting sites: the Ireland property, the MacDonald mine and the Princess Sodalite mine. Equipped with closed toe shoes, a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water bottles and bug spray, we hit the road.

Once we reached our first destination, I observed that the group was mainly composed of families with children aged four and up, who were especially keen and busy digging, hammering and chiselling away. What a great way to spend a day out with the kids!

I chatted with a couple from Switzerland who were travelling all over Canada for a month with their three kids. They had already been to Quebec, Toronto and Bancroft and were planning on spending the next part of their trip in Prince Edward County. They asked me about my immigration story and we talked about the wonderful lifestyle I get to enjoy in this region, far from traffic, and immersed into nature.

As the day went by, interspersed with short hikes to get to the sites, mineral searching and collecting while breathing fresh air, I couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful for this “grounding” experience.

A great all around family, educational and fun activity for the summer! If you want to experience it for yourself, visit bancroftdistrict.com or go to the 53rd Annual Rockhound Gemboree from July 28 to 31, 2016