BANCROFT ONTARIO & AREA MINERAL COLLECTING
The Bancroft area is rich with minerals, gems and fossils, and brings thousands of people to the area each year to either attend the Rockhound Gemboree, visit some of the local shops that sell gems, minerals, and equipment, or to go on a treasure hunt themselves. We’ve compiled a list of rock collecting sites in Bancroft and surrounding areas, museums, mines, and rock shops. Know of something we’ve missed? Please let us know!
Some places to explore…
The Miner’s Loop
The Miner’s Loop is located approx an hour south of Bancroft. It is a self guided tour consisting of 4 sites that teaches it’s visitors about rocks and minerals in the area, and also area mining. It is put on by the Marmora Tourism Centre.
- Millside Park
- Hastings Trail
- Deloro Mine Site
- Marmoraton Mine Site
For more information please call 613-472-1515 or visit their website.
The Richardson Mine
The Richardson Mine is the site of Ontario’s first gold mine. Gold was first discovered here by Marcus Herbert Powell in 1866 on the farm of John Richardson. The mine went into production the next year, and the town of Eldorado was founded. Although the Richardson mine ceased operation in 1869, not long after it opened, it spurred a small gold rush to the area and a number of other small mines were established, including Deloro, Gilmour, Cordova, Feigle, Bannockburn and Golden Fleece. These mines, like the Richardson Mine, did not hold vast amounts of gold.
To commemorate the first gold mine in Ontario, the Archeological and Historical Sites Board of Ontario installed a historical plaque at the corner of Hwy 62 and John Street in the village of Eldorado. There are a few original buildings near by that serve as a reminder of a time long past.
The Marmoraton Mine
The Marmoraton Mine, possibly one of the most successful in the area of Marmora, was started when magnetite ore was discovered under 120 feet of limestone, in 1948. The first of the iron ore was shipped in 1955, by owners Bethlehem Steel Mills of New York. After blasting away the limestone, the open pit mine measured approx 1700 feet x 1200 feet, with a depth of 600 feet.
The Deloro Mine is part of the Madoc gold rush, which started with the discovery of gold at Ontario’s first gold mine, the Richardson Mine. Unfortunately the Deloro mine is heavily polluted from the materials it mined, refined and produced. The mine is contaminated with arsenic, cobalt, copper, nickel, and low-level radioactive waste and other materials. Work is currently under-way to contain these wastes and make the area safe for the people.
Bancroft Mineral Museum
Discover the history of the mining in the area, learn about mineral collecting, or explore over 400 local specimens, all on display in the 1200 square-foot showroom of the Bancroft Mineral Museum.
Princess Sodalite Mine Rock Shop
The Princess Sodalite Mine Rock Shop offers a unique shopping experience offering a wide selection of minerals and fossil specimens. The selection of minerals, which is always changing, ranges from beginner to museum quality of local and world-wide minerals. The stores also carries a nice selection of gifts including candle holders, carvings, wood chimes and more. And if you’re not there to shop, then you are surely there to visit the rock farm. Here you can hunt through the plant tailings from the Princess Sodalite Mine, along with materials from other local mines and quarries. Sodalite was first discovered in the Bancroft area in the late 1800s, and it quickly became a popular gemstone. The deposits in Bancroft are some of the largest and most well-known deposits of sodalite in the world, and the town has a long history of mining and producing the mineral. In the early 20th century, sodalite from Bancroft was used to produce a range of decorative objects, including figurines, vases, and other decorative items.
Madawaska Mine (Faraday Mine)
This is a former uranium mine. Underground development started in 1954 by Faraday Uranium Mines Ltd., and ended in 1964 when contracts to sell uranium expired. The mine was reopened in 1975 by Madawaska Mines Ltd., and ended in 1982.
Bonnechere Museum & Geoheritage Trail
Attention hikers, geologists and fossil hunters! The Bonnechere Museum offers a local trail for recreational geology and exploration. Bonnechere Museum’s Geoheritage Trail is located on John Street in Eganville down the street from the Eganville Leader. The trail offers a selection of rocks and fossils as well as showcases a historical limestone quarry, now a beautiful pond, and the connecting trench.
The Bonnechere Caves are located in Eganville Ontario. Welcoming people for over 55 years, the Bonnechere Caves provide a safe educational, fun, and informative tour for people of all ages.
Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves
The Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves are located 15 minutes North of Belleville at 2623 Harmony Road. The cavern and caves are known for their rich mineral deposits and contain a variety of minerals, including calcite, quartz, and pyrite, which make them a popular location for rockhounding, or the hobby of collecting rocks and minerals. Tours run every 30 minutes and take approximately 45 minutes from start to finish.
Located in Wilberforce, Ontario, Greenmantle is a 300-acre piece of land that has remained largely unchanged since the last ice age. It is home to the rare mineral fluororicherite, which can only be found in this location in Canada, as well as other minerals such as apatite, hornblende, orthoclase, quartz, and clinohumite. Mineral specimens from Greenmantle can be found in the Royal Ontario Museum, the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, the Smithsonian, and in private collections worldwide. The Bramham family offers guided eco-tours of their mineral occurrence, providing a unique opportunity for those interested in learning about the rock formations that make up our natural world. Please visit their website to learn more or book a tour. Please note, these are guided, paid tours.
**Check Hours of Operation before heading to any of these places.
ROCK AND MINERAL COLLECTING SITES
(Please note some sites now prohibit collecting. Make sure you have permission to be there, respect the area and do not trespass)
CN Rock Dump
This is that the site where the Golding-Keene Quarry material was brought to be kept and used in the construction of the rail road. Collecting is allowed here, and is managed through the Chamber of Commerce. From 1927 to 1939, this unique deposit was worked for nepheline which is used in making ceramic and glass. The deposit was too small to be commercially successful and it contained too many impurities, so some of the last shipments were left beside the railroad tracks and today is a popular collecting site. Minerals you could find include biotite, calcite, cancrinite, scapolite, sodalite, natrolite, apatite and zircons.
The dump is very easy to access and is a great place for families to hunt for interesting finds. You’ll find the CN Rock Pile directly across the road from the Town of Bancroft Municipal Office, on the Hastings Heritage Trail. It will be approximately 200 meters down the trail on your left.
Located in the Dungannon Township, this quarry was used by the New England Nepheline Company to mine nepheline from 1927 to 1939. The quarry was cut into the side of a hill on the bank of the York River, and is now a part of the Egan Chutes Provincial Park. Collecting is now prohibited at this site, but it is still allowed at the CN Dump in Bancroft, where material from this quarry was deposited.
Beryl Pit / Aqua Rose
Beryl Pit is located approx 2.1 km north of Quadeville. The site is made up of two mines, Quadeville East Mine (Beryl Pit) and the Quadeville West Mine (Rose Quartz Quarry). The Beryl Pit is currently owned by the company Aquarose, and there is a fee for collecting. You can purchase mineral collecting permits for the Beryl Pit at Kauffeldt’s Corner Store, where they will also give you directions to the mine. More…
Cole Hill Gold
Located on Lower Faraday road, Coe Hill Gold features a fee-for fishing trout farm, a large rock shop, & multiple mineral occurrences open as a fee for collecting sites. You’ll find 7 mineral collecting sites, including a magnetite & garnet site. Minerals occurring on the property have been identified by Minerals Associates Inc. and the property is open in the summer months.
Bear Lake Diggings
Prior to 2016 this was the first publicly protected collecting site in Ontario. However, the site closed in 2016 when it was sold to new owners.
When you start exploring the area, you’ll find that there are some great caches hidden in old mines. Ask at Agnew’s General Store in Wilberforce for all the details.
This is a road cut on the north side of Graphite Road in Hastings Highlands, Monteagle Township. The outcrop is west of Musclow Road, on the north side. Mineral Iist: Actinolite, Albite, Diopside, Phlogopite, Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Titanite, Tremolite. *Please do not fill the ditch with rubble and be careful of traffic.
Which type of collector are you?
In Ontario, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines recognizes two types of mineral collectors. The hobby and the large scale / commercial collectors. These two types of collectors are distinguished by their threshold limit.
Hobby Mineral Collecting
- for personal pleasure or interest only
- the amount you collect is below the threshold limit
- minerals collected are for your personal collection
- you have no intention of selling the minerals you have collected (swapping/trading of minerals collected is acceptable)
Large Scale Mineral Collecting (Commercial Collecting)
- you are collecting / extracting minerals with the intention of selling them
- the amount you collect is above the threshold limit
- you collect your samples through the use of mechanical equipment