Collecting Rocks, Minerals and Fossils
Collectors of rocks & minerals buy, trade or go on field trips to collect their specimens. Elsewhere you can find information on where to go and buy rocks. If you want to go collect rocks by yourself, that is what is known as going on a field trip.
When you collect rocks, you have to make sure you don't get hurt. Rockhounds know all about that & so should you. Here is a list of some of the things you should think about when you go out collecting rocks:
- Never try to break a rock without wearing safety goggles.
- Breaking rocks takes practice. Have an experienced rockhound show you how. Each rock has a different way of breaking.
- You will also need a proper sledge. Never try to break a specimen by hitting it with the pointed end of a geologists pick.
- Do not use regular tools like hammers, chisels, woodworking chisels, axes etc. to break your rocks. They weren't designed for this, you will damage them and you will hurt yourself when the tool breaks.
- Wear gloves. Sometimes rocks can give you slivers and quartz is sharp enough to give you a nasty cut.
- Rocks are hard and often rough. They can scratch you as well as any furniture you put it on
- Wash you hands thoroughly after handling rocks and before eating. Some minerals can make you sick.
- Don't wash your rocks in the sink at home. You could scratch the sink and the dirt could clog up your pipes. Wash your rocks in a tub of water and dump the water on your flowerbed outside.
- Always collect with a buddy and let people know where you are going.
- Make sure you have permission to go on the land where the rocks are. Do not go on private proerty without permission.
GOING ON FIELD TRIPS
There are rocks & minerals all around you. In nature, minerals and rocks can be found anywhere you see the rocks peeking out from the soil. For young people, it is hard to go collecting rocks because of safety concerns and need for transportation. Creeks and river beds are among the easiest places to find rocks that have already been broken up. To start going on field trips, it is easiest to join a local rock & mineral club. Members of the club know what locations nearby are accessible and have interesting rocks.
One of the best places in Ontario to start is Bancroft, Ontario. http://www.bancroftdistrict.com/index.php Not only are there lots of different minerals in a small area, but the local Chamber of Commerce encourages family rockhounding and provides maps and guided excursions. Bancroft is known as Canada Mineral Capital!
And of course, if you join a local Rock & Mineral Club, you will learn where other rockhounds go collecting!
You can also start learning about rocks when you are in the car with your parents. Take a look at the scenery that you drive through. Sooner or later you will see rocks, especially at road cuts.
One of the best places to get started in collecting rocks is at road cuts. A road cut is where the rock has been cut to let the road go through. This is usually done so that the road doesn't go up & down. When you are on the road in the countryside and go by a road cut, look for veins of different coloured materials, vugs (holes) or sparkles.
As you're driving along the road, keep you eyes open for road cuts. This is where the rocks in the hills have been cut to let the road go through in a more straight line. The road cuts are made by blasting the rocks with dynamite. The rock that gets blasted out is used to fill in the valleys where the road will pass, so that the road is more flat. If you look closely, you will be able to see interesting designs in the rocks and many different colours. Ask your parent to stop sometimes if the rocks look especially interesting. Remember to be safe when you are on the side of the road. There are rules about collecting along road cuts so be sure that you know if you are allowed to collect. Different provinces have different rules. You also need to be sure that you are safe and that the cars driving by are safe from falling rocks.
Be careful of broken glass, especially if you kneel down to get a better look at the rocks. You'll be surprised by the amount of garbage that you will find by the side of the road. Do your part & try to pick up a few pieces whenever you stop to look at a road cut. Consider it part of doing your bit for the environment.
Many beaches have rocks. Because there were glaciers in Ontario, many of our beaches have different rocks that were brought here from far away. The beaches of Lake Superioe and Lake Ontario have many different rocks and fossils on them - you just need to keep your eye on the ground.
DISPLAYING YOUR COLLECTION
Start off by having a shelf where you can put your rocks.
Remember to keep a label with it which tells you where you collected the rock and the date.
Don't worry if you don't know the name of the rock because later you might find that rock in an identification book. You can always add that information later.
Fee Collecting Sites and Tours in Ontario
Sometimes it is hard to get started when you want to go rock collecting - especially if you have children or are a beginner. Fee collecting sites will allow you to collect in a supervised way on their property and charge you a collecting fee or a fee based on the weight of the rocks you have collected.
It’s never too early to plan a field trip for next year. Be sure to take along your hard hat, steel toed boots & other safety equipment just in case you can get permission to work in some of the more interesting parts of the property.
Anyone who has ever planned a field trip in Ontario has appreciated having an Ontario Road Map. Not only can you plan your route so that you can go the scenic way, but you can use stickies & highlighters to tag the location of some of the collecting sites you have heard about from other people. If you want a paper copy of the map, you can order online http://www.ontariotravel.net/TCISSegmentsWeb/gn/travelGuides/roadmap.xhtml?_nfpb=true&_nfls=false&language=en and you can get 1 map sent to you free of charge. You can also call 1-800-668-2746 and have up to 5 maps sent to you for free. Maps are also available at Ontario Tourism booths along the highway. A web version of the Map of Ontario can also be found at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/map/
Bear Lake Diggings ~ titanite, hornblende, apatite ~ Bancroft and District Chamber of Commerce
Princess Sodalite Mine Rock Shop ~ sodalite and other minerals "trucked in" to be collected on the back of the property. This is a rock shop as well as a a place that allows "rock farm collecting". http://www.princesssodalitemine.ca/
Marble Quarry - Guided tour and collecting, private quarry at 27239 Highway#62 613-332-3542
Silver Crater Mine ~ betafite
Coe Hill Gold ~ local minerals
Berger Occurence ~ amazonite
Bonnechere Museum Fossil Hunts Four times during the summer, the Bonnechere Museum hosts a local fossil hunt. http://www.bonnecherecaves.com/index.php?p=special_events&id=1695
Haliburton Rocks! The Celebrity Adventure Haliburton, ON http://www.yoursoutdoors.ca/packageinfo.php?id=50
Lanark Geo Tours Perth, ON Tours given in the Perth Area and arranged by local individual ED. Suitable for families with children under 16. Reasonable daily rates. Check out FB page for activities. https://www.facebook.com/LanarkGeoTours
Michael J Bainbridge Photography Minden This photography studio will photograph your mineral collection & guide you to local collecting sites. http://www.theoccurrence.ca/Bainbridge%20Photo.pdf
Mineral Eco Tours - Greenmantle Farm Mineral Occurence Wilberforce, ON http://www.mineraltours.net/index.htm
Drury Occurrence ~ titanite, apatite
Blueberry Amethyst Inc. ~ amethyst
DanBill Amethyst Mines ~ amethyst
Blue Points Amethyst Mine This past summer a number of rockhounds had spectacular collecting experiences in Thunder Bay. Although there are a number of amethyst fee for collecting sites in Thunder bay, not all of them are created equal. I have hear that people who went to the Blue Point Amethyst Mine on Road#5 North, Pearl had a fantastic experience. I have seen the material collected & it is great. The owner Lyndon Swanson can be contacted by email at email@example.com
Diamond Willow Amethyst Mine
The Beryl Pit ~ beryl and many other pegmatite minerals ~ Combermere, ON Collecting Permits may be bought at Kauffeldt's Store in Quadeville.
AquaRose Rose Quartz Quarry ~ rose quartz ~ by prior appointment only
Amethyst Mine Panorama Thunder Bay, ON Fee collecting location - collect your own amethyst, Guided & self-guided tours. http://amethystmine.com/
Ontario Gem Company Amethyst Mine
Thunder Bay Agate Mine ~ agate
Precious Purple Gemstones Ltd. ~ amethyst http://amethystmine.com/
Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour (Hollinger Mine) Timmins, ON Underground Gold Mine tour, panning for gold, mine site exploration http://www.timminsgoldminetour.com/about.php
Schickler Fluorite Occurrence ~ This site is open to the public as long as a permit is obtained from the Wilberforce Municipal office or some local stores. A report on a collecting experience can be found at http://kawartharockandfossilclub.com/?p=556
For more information, check out Natural Resources Canada ~ ONTARIO Fee Collecting Sites http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/products-services/publications/bookstore/8496#on
Fee Collecting Sites in the USA
Herkimer, New York
Ace of Diamonds Mine and Campground ~ Herkimer diamonds - fee collecting site