Rockhounding as a Hobby [Complete Beginner’s Guide]

If you love rocks & minerals, then there are lots that you and your family can do. Since we are located in Southern Ontario, the suggestions on this page are geared to our location.

However, that does not mean that you can’t get ideas of what you can do if you live somewhere else.

Joining a Rock and Mineral Club

If you are interested in knowing more about the rockhounding hobby, it is good to join a local club or two. You will learn a lot, but you will find many interesting people to share your interests with.

If you are looking for a Rock & Mineral Club in the TORONTO area, the ones we are associated with are:

Gem & Mineral Club of Scarborough and YTMC ~ Young Toronto Mineralogists Club for kids 8 to 15.

Rock, Gem, Mineral & Beading Shows

Many local Rock Clubs put on annual shows. Not only do you get to meet fellow rockhounds, but you can see many examples of local minerals. Most shows also have vendors from whom you can buy minerals.

As well, most shows have activities geared towards kids and beginners. These shows are generally held at the same time each year so that you can mark the dates on your calendar well in advance and make your visit a family outing.

There are also commercial Gem shows and Beading & Jewelry shows that have items of interest to people in the hobby. For a listing of some of the annual shows accessible to Southern Ontario – see below.

Rock, Gem, Mineral & Beading Show

Suppliers, Rock Shops, Stores for Hobbyists

Once the “rock bug has bitten you,” you will find yourself looking for places to buy rocks or supplies related to the hobby. Although the Internet can be a great source for online buying, we prefer to see things in person. For a list of suppliers and rock shops -see below

2014 Gem & Mineral Club of Scarborough Show

Museums and Great Displays related to Geology, Mining, and Minerals

Most museums have rocks, minerals, fossils, and artifacts made of precious gems and materials. If you can, try to see these museums in person. If not, check out their virtual online tours and picture galleries.

To see a list of museums and displays in Ontario and nearby, click here.

Seeing Rocks Outdoor within reach of Southern Ontario

Seeing rocks in nature is probably the best way to get hooked on how cool they really are! Rocks were meant to be touched and if you’re lucky – climbed on!:-) For places to go, see below.

Collecting Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils

Collecting rocks is like any other hobby that involves collecting. It can be done by buying specimens, or it can be done by collecting rocks and minerals where they occur in nature.

For a bit more information on how to go about doing this, see below

Experiments with Rocks and Minerals

Many neat experiments can be done with rocks and minerals. Even crystals can be grown at home. For a few activities that might interest a beginner, see below.

Joining a Rock and Mineral Club in Southern Ontario

If you are interested in getting to know more about the rockhounding hobby, it is good to join a local club or two. You will learn a lot, but you will find many interesting people to share your interests with.

Many of the clubs listed below have monthly meetings, annual auctions, shows, and field trips that you might be interested in attending. The annual membership fees are very reasonable.

Most of these clubs are oriented towards adults and often the meetings are too late for young kids. However, the clubs welcome young families and often offer activities for young people if there is interest from their members.

Many rockhounds belong to multiple clubs to keep informed and meet new friends. Sometimes it is nice to know what other clubs are active within the driving & or collecting range.

It is possible to make contacts with other club members and get to know other collecting locations better.

  • Bancroft Gem & Mineral Club
  • Barrie Gem & Mineralogical Society
  • Brampton Rock & Mineral Club (GTA)
  • Brantford Lapidary & Mineral Society
  • Kawartha Rock & Fossil Club – Peterborough
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Gem & Mineral Club – Waterloo
  • Kingston Lapidary & Mineral Club
  • London Gem & Mineral Society
  • Niagara Peninsula Geological Society – St. Catherines
  • Nipissing Lapidary & Mineral Club – North Bay
  • North York Faceting Guild (GTA)
  • Ottawa Lapsmith & Mineral Club
  • Oxford County Geological Society – Woodstock
  • Prince Edward County Rock, Gem & Mineral Club
  • Sarnia Rock & Fossil Club
  • Scarborough – Gem & Mineral Club of Scarborough (GTA)
  • Sudbury Rock & Lapidary Society
  • Toronto – The Walker Mineralogical Club (GTA)
  • Toronto – YTMC ~ Young Toronto Mineralogists Club – for kids 9 to 15 (GTA) This is the best club for really keen kids.

Many rockhounds belong to more than one club. Although they may be most active in their “home” club, they join other clubs to participate in more activities. Many people new to the hobby ask about where to go for field trips.

One strategy is to join a club located in an area with interesting rocks and an active field trip program.

Why join a club?

Because you can learn about and meet people who know about it…



Quartz Herkimers


field trip ganville

field trip otter lake


field trip otter lake

field trip turtle stones


lapidary into cabbing




field trip mara quarry

Rock, Gem & Mineral Shows … and Bead Shows… and more

Rocking Events close to Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

This list is not a complete list of all the shows that exist, but we are aware of and make for easy day or weekend trips. Make sure you contact the website of the hosting organization before you make your trip so that you are sure the information is accurate & current.

Some of these shows are free, and others charge admission. Be sure to Google the show & confirm the exact dates and the location. This is meant as a planning guide only. Enjoy!

show tuscon

show tuscon 2


Many keen rockhounds try to fly down to Quartzite in Arizona, USA


One of the biggest Mineral Shows in the world is held annually in Tucson, Arizona.


Feb 28 – Mar 1, 2015, Peterborough Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show ~ The Evinrude Centre, 911 Monaghan Rd., Peterborough, ON Put on by the Kawartha Rock & Fossil Club

Mar 1 – 4, 2015   PDAC Convention ~ Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto

Mar 13 – 15, 2015   The Gem Expo ~ Hyatt Regency Toronto on King, 370 King Street West, Toronto ~ Independent Jewellery vendors and Jewellery makers, Precious and Semi-Precious stones from around the world, Beads, Beading supplies & tools, Gem Stones, Minerals, Silver Jewellery and Findings, Lampwork artists. Learn about minerals from on-site Lapidary, take a class on Jewellery making or watch some live demonstrations.

Mar 14 – 15, 2015   The Innovative Beads Expo ~ The Conference Centre, 101 Old Falls Street, Niagara Falls, NY

Mar 15, 2015, Great Lakes Beaders Guild Bead Bonanza ~ South Municipal Complex, 26000 Evergreen Rd Southfield (Detroit) Michigan

Mar 21 – 22, 2015   Buffalo Geological Society Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show ~ Erie County Fairgrounds, Hamburg New York USA Although in the USA, this show is still just a day trip from Toronto.

Mar 26 – 30, 2015   One of A Kind Show ~ Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto


Apr 11 – 12, 2015   Brantford Lapidary & Mineral Society Show ~ Paris Fairground. 139 Silver Street, Paris, ON

Apr 17 – 19, 2015   Montreal Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show ~ Center Pierre-Charbonneau 3000 Viau St. (Viau Metro) Montreal, Quebec

 Apr 24 – 25, 2015   Creativ Festival – International Centre, 6900 Airport Road, Missiassauga –

Apr 25, 2015, Sterling Hill Super Dig ~ organized by the Sterling Hill Mining Museum and the Delaware Valley Earth Science Society  Ogdensburg, New Jersey

Apr 23 – 26, 2015   Rochester Mineralogical Symposium ~ This is for more serious rockhounds, not beginning hobbyists. If that describes you, read up on the activities offered at

Apr 24 – 26, 2015   Toronto Gem & Mineral Show & Sale ~ Don Mills Civitan Arena, 1030 Don Mills Rd., North York, ON This shows where beads & minerals can be bought. There are many dealers present. A local club does not sponsor it. Several rock clubs do have tables at the show to showcase their hobby.


May 1 – 3, 2015   Canadian Micro-Mineral Association ~ Brock University, St. Catharines, ON

May 1 – 3, 2015   Robert Hall Originals – Spring Open House & Demonstration Weekend ~ St. George, ON

May 2, 2015, Kitchener -Waterloo Gem & Mineral Club Show ~ 25 Regina Street South in Uptown Waterloo

May 9, 2015, Toronto Bead Society BEadFABULOUS – YMCA  20 Grosvenor St, Toronto

May 27 – June 8, 2015, Bead and Button Show ~ largest bead show in North America, Wisconsin Centre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


June 6, 2015, Niagara Penninsula Geological Society Show ~ Heartland Forest, 8215 Heartland Forest Rd., Niagara Falls ON


July 5, 2015, Kingston Lapidary & Mineral Club Show – Gem Shower ~ Crystal Palace, 375 Main Street, Picton, ON

July 17 – 19, 2015   Sudbury Gem & Mineral Show ~ Carmichael Arena, 1298 Bancroft Drive, Sudbury

July 18 – 19, 2015   Herkimer Diamond Festival & Gem Show ~ organized by the Village of Herkimer, Herkimer NY

July 24 – 25, 2015   Robert Hall Originals – Giant Jewellery Yard Sale    ~ St. George, ON

July 26, 2015, Bancroft Gem & Mineral Club Show ~ Bancroft Legion Hall, Station Street, Bancroft

July 24 – 26, 2015   The Gem Expo ~ Hyatt Regency Toronto on King, 370 King Street West, Toronto ~ Independent Jewellery vendors and Jewellery makers, Precious and Semi-Precious stones from around the world, Beads, Beading supplies & tools, Gem Stones, Minerals, Silver Jewellery and Findings, Lampwork artists. Learn about minerals from on-site Lapidary, take a class on Jewellery making or watch some live demonstrations.


July 30 – Aug 2, 2015, Bancroft Rockhound Gemboree ~ Bancroft – sponsored by The Chamber of Commerce This is a great show for families because, in addition to vendors, there are daily field trips organized that are accessible to children and adults alike.

Aug 15, 2015, Robert Hall Originals Rockhound Family Day  ~ 138 Sugar Maple Rd, St. George, Ontario N0E 1N0


Sept 19 – 20, 2015   Scarborough Rock & Gem Club Show ~ Come and visit the Gem and Mineral Club of Scarborough Show at Don Montgomery Community Centre 2467 Eglinton Ave. E Scarborough (besides the Kennedy Subway station )


Oct 17 – 18, 2015   Kingston Lapidary & Mineral Club Show – Gem Storm ~ Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, 52 Yonge St., Kingston

Oct 2 – 4, 2015 Ancaster Gem, Mineral, Bead & Jewellery Show ~Ancaster Fairgrounds – Marriott Hall Complex, 630 Trinity Road, Ancaster Ontario Presented by Robert Hall Originals –  

Oct 9 – 11, 2015 Detroit Gem, Mineral, Fossil & Jewelry Show ~ Annual Detroit Show in Warren, MI at the Macomb Community College-South Campus inside the Sports & Expo Center (SW corner of 12 Mile & Hayes Rd.) Billed as the “Midwest’s largest show under one roof” with over 50 dealers selling minerals, fossils, gems, gemstone jewelry, carvings, equipment, and more.

Oct 23 – 24, 2015 University of Waterloo Gem & Mineral Show & Science Open House ~ University of Waterloo Campus, Science Centre,  Waterloo –


Mid-November    London Gem & Mineral Show ~ Western Fairgrounds (Special Events Building), London


A time to dream about rocks and plan for the next year! 🙂

show tuscon 3

Suppliers, Rock Shops, Stores for Hobbyists

Once you start collecting rocks, you find yourself drawn to many different aspects of the hobby. Some of these are lapidary arts, wirework, cabbing, jewelry making, spheres, and tumbling rocks.

The hardest part then becomes finding a reliable & affordable source of specimens, rough, tools, equipment & supplies for your hobby. This page is geared to Rockhounds in the Greater Toronto Area in Southern Ontario because this website originates from.

Although the Internet is a great source, most of what is available online are from the USA & shipping & import duties add significantly to the cost of things.

For this reason, we have decided to present a page that reflects the recommendations of the Rockhounds we know. If you know of a source that you think would be great for hobbyists to know about, then drop us a line. This is an evolving project.

Things for sale can be rocks, minerals, fossils, lapidary & wire working supplies, stained glass supplies, and beads. Stone sculptures and decorative pieces are also often found in these stores.

All of these shops have a home store, and some also sell at fairs and shows. Some offer hobby-related classes. In general, it is fair to say that the owners of these shops are knowledgeable & friendly.

As you get to know them, you will find that they are as passionate about your hobby as you are!;-)

Be sure to call ahead and make sure they are open when you plan to visit. Although there are probably many more, these are the ones we know of that are fairly easily accessible from the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario.

A few of the suppliers are OnLine & we know of people who recommend these sites and they ship to Canada. BUYER BEWARE: This list is provided as a service, and we are not paid to maintain it.

Although we recommend these places as a good starting point for your quest, we do not warrant the accuracy of our listing, nor do we vouch for those listed here. We have had personal contact with many of those listed below and use them ourselves in most cases.

However, if you have an extremely negative experience, let us know – we do not want to continue to steer customers to businesses that do not act in good faith.

We have created the following categories to help you find what you may be looking for:

  • Rock Shops & Rocks, Minerals, Wirework & Jewellery Making Supplies
  • Lapidary Equipment, Services & Supplies
  • Rock Art & Stained Glass
  • Soapstone & Ornamental Rocks
  • Wood Hobby, Turning & Related Findings
  • Rock Shops & Rocks, Minerals, Wirework & Jewellery Making supplies

Rock Shops & Rocks, Minerals, Wirework & Jewellery Making Supplies

These stores sell rough, cabs, findings, jewelry-making tools, wire, mineral specimens, sculptures. Some supply services unique to our hobby.

Ambient Enterprise Inc. Markham ON Sells beading supplies –

Arton Beads Toronto Toronto Queen St. Beading Supplies –

BeadFX Toronto ON ~ a bead shop that sells beading supplies & has lessons. It sells a C-Lon cord. It is located in the Eglington & Victoria Park area –

Bling Toronto ON ~ sells beads at 448 queens.

Blue Sapphire Beads Maple ON  The owners of this store host The Gem Expo – a new Jewellery, Bead & Mineral show in Toronto.

Canada Beading Supply Ottawa ON This supplier is present at most Ontario rock & gem shows –

Crystal Palace Gems & Minerals Toronto ON These dealers appear to offer their wares online and at the CNE  –

David K. Joyce Minerals Newmarket ON David Joyce is an avid rockhound & mineral dealer. He is well known for his Canadian minerals –

DeSerres Richmond Hill ON This is a well established fine art supply store (formerly Loomis & Tooles) that has a decent range of jewelry making supplies –

Eisinger Canada Ltd. Toronto ON –  1111 Finch Ave. West #34, Toronto ON Jewellery tools & equipment

Fabucraft Beads Thornhill ON 100 Steeles Avenue West Unit 31B Thornhill / Woodbridge ON –  Lots of rock & mineral beads and supplies for the beader & lapidary enthusiast.

Fancy Gems and Accessories Toronto  Queen St. Bead Supplies –

Gem Capital Toronto ON specializes in South American Gemstones. They have a location on Danforth in Toronto as well as a store in Markham-

Gesswein Canada Toronto ON  317 Atwell Dr.  Jewellery tools & equipment

Gifts from the Earth Toronto ON 320 Danforth Ave  Minerals, fossils & jewelry –

Gneiss Guy Minerals & Fossils Warehouse Fergus ON 820 Gartshore St. Unit #19  These dealers can be found at most local rock & gem shows.

Handy & Harman Etobicoke ON  Metal Suppliers

Hunters Precious Metals  London ON London’s Farmers & Artisan Market – upstairs   Western Fair Grounds  – sell rocks, minerals, jewelry –

H&W; Perrin Toronto ON  90 Thorncliffe Park Drive  Watch & Jewellery tools & equipment

Lacy & Company  Toronto ON 69 Queen St. East, 2nd floor 1-800-387-4466, 416-365-1375 Jewellery making supplies, lapidary, silversmithing

London Beadery London ON Classes & Supplies for beaders. Lots of rock & mineral beads and supplies for the beader & lapidary enthusiast –

McDonald and Wang Wholesale Gemstones Toronto ON 9 Bertrand Ave 647-725-5343 cell 416-898-4788 David & Lois McDonald Cabs, Beads, Findings

Michaels Canada Toronto ON & elsewhere. This arts & craft chain store has a wide selection of tools & materials for wire workers

Michael J Bainbridge Photography Minden ON This photography studio will photograph your mineral collection –

NHARO! Fair Trade African Art & Products Toronto ON  The store owners have a personal connection with an art cooperative in Africa and import many beautiful sculptures made of rocks & minerals. African mineral specimens are available also. Online orders are available and present at many local shows & events.

Rio Grande Jewelry Making Albuquerque NM  A large selection of wirework & jewelry making supplies. Great source of wire.

RockStarCrystals Manhattan, NY (OK, so this is a bit far from the GTA)  150 W 28th St, Suite 201B (Second Floor), New York We have over 140 different crystals and minerals from around the world, and we even carry fossils, shells, and meteorites – many at reasonable prices that kids can afford.

Roger’s Minerals Worldwide Rare Minerals Sudbury ON ~ Run by Roger Poulin, a well known Ontario rockhound, this mail-order business operates online –

Silver Dawn Jewels Vaughan ON Affordable, quality beading components – findable on Facebook

Stockade Supply – Guelph, ON This is a Woodworker & Crafters supplier that has a mailorder catalog & website. It has beads, craft wire, wire jigs, jewelry-making tools, findings, and other jewelry craft items. 1-800-463-0929 –

Stones & Findings – Premium Wholesale Jewellery Components Toronto  This company is at a number of shows and also has occasional sales where the prices are as if you were buying wholesale.

Toth’s Fossil’s and Minerals Ingersoll, Ontario – This is a family-run business with a large selection of rocks & minerals. –

The Beadery Toronto Queen St. Beading supplies & jewelry findings –

That Bead Lady Newmarket Beading supplies & classes –

The Rock Store Ed Mirvish Village, Toronto This is a crystal healing center that also carries rocks & minerals –

The Russian Stone Centre Point Mall, Toronto These dealers are at most local rock & gem shows and carries minerals as well as jewelry –

Umicore Jewellery and Industrial Metals Markham Metal Supplier –

Lapidary Equipment, Services & Supplies

GMB Services Richmond Hill ON  If you need to have a rock-cut, slabbed, or polished, contact us –

Kingsley North Norway, MIGreat online source for lapidary equipment –

Rio Grande  Albuquerque NM  A large selection of jewelry making equipment

Robert Hall Originals St. George ON 138 Sugar Maple Rd, St. George –  lapidary equipment such as tumblers, grinders & arbors, saws rough, cabs, slabs, rocks

Soapstone & Ornamental Rocks

Cedar Creek Studio Hampton ON 4474 Old Scugog Road This family-run business has a great variety of decorative stones for landscaping purposes.

These include white onyx, driftwood stone (petrified wood), basalt & over 40 varieties of colorful stones –

Chinese Soapstone & Wen’s Art World Toronto ON Wen is a talented stone sculptor who does jade and soapstone carvings & ice sculptures. He also sells soapstone from his warehouse (by appointment) –

Stoneman Distributors – London ON 519-668-3996 –  Supplier of soapstone and carving tools

Agate Art & Stained Glass

A.J. Stained Glass  Toronto ON ~ Artistic Glass This is a well-established glass supply & hobbyist store that also provides classes. The store is located near High Park –

Fantasy in Glass Toronto ON ~ source of stained glass supplies that can also be used to make agate art. 703 The Queensway –  solder, grinders, copper foil

Glasstronomy Studios Thornhill ON 2600 John St. Unit 108  Stained glass studio & supplies. This is a studio that promotes the glass hobbyist community and specializes in fused glass & classes –

Sunshine Glassworks Ltd. Buffalo, NY USA This well-stocked shop is within driving distance of Toronto & sells online as well –

Other Hobby or Handywork Stores – can be used for stone crafts

Artistic Wood & Tool Supply Inc. Toronto ON  Exotic woods, findings for wood & stone crafts like pen sets, clocks, small projects. Offers turning classes – including turning jewelry. Some soapstone.

Century Mill Lumber Stouffville ON  Lumber, burls, exotic wood for small projects & turnings. Great source of wood for bases or projects.

Lee Valley Tools – Toronto, ON & elsewhere –  respirators, face shields, craft supplies are mainly for woodworkers, but some are applicable like clock parts & pen set findings

Princess Auto Newmarket ON & many places in Ontario They have safety equipment, disposable masks, aprons, and other rockhounding gear.

Tandy Leather Markam ON and numerous other places  –  belt buckle blanks

Museums and Great Displays related to Geology, Mining, and Minerals

Most museums have rocks, minerals, fossils, and artifacts made of precious gems and materials.

If you can, try to see these museums in person. If not, check out their virtual online tours and picture galleries.

… in Ontario

Arkona Lions Museum & Information Centre Rock Glen Conservation Area, Arkona This museum has a fossil display from the area with Devonian Era fossils dating back 350 million years.

Bancroft Gem & Mineral Club Museum (Mineral Capital Museum) Bancroft, ON 32 Station Street Bancroft

Bruce Mines Museum Bruce Mines, ON (east of Sault Ste. Marie) Copper mining museum self-guided walking tour, Tour the Simpson Mine Shaft

Cobalt Northern Ontario Mining Museum Cobalt, ON Silver mining history

Miller Museum of Geology and Mineralogy Kingston, ON Museum at Queen’s University

Nuclear and Mining Museum Elliot lake, ON Uranium mining

Oil Museum of Canada Oil Springs, Lambton County A museum about the role of the petroleum business in Southern Ontario

Petrolia Discovery Petrolia, ON A Canadian heritage public oil field.

Royal Ontario Museum ~ The ROM  Toronto, ON Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth’s Treasures ~ Rock, Gem, Mineral, Fossil, and Meteorite Identification Clinics are FREE and happen every few months.

Bring in your rocks, minerals, gems, fossils, or suspected meteorites and have them identified by ROM experts at special ID clinics.

Wednesdays 4 pm to 5:30 pm @ President’s Choice Entrance on Queen’s Park, doors nearest Museum subway stop.

Stones ‘N Bones Museum Sarnia, ON A private Nature museum including fossils, minerals, and a gift shop.

Wallaceburg & District Museum Wallaceburg, ON This museum showcases the historical importance of the Brass & Glass industries in days gone by.

… Virtual Museums and Museums Around the World

Most museums have rocks & minerals on display. Some museums have photographs of their rock & mineral galleries up on the web.

Although we personally think you should go and visit every museum that you can, looking at pictures on the web can get you dreaming!

Smithsonian Gem & Mineral Collection A world-class mineral collection – well worth the visit in person.

Shows gems & mineral crystals from the mineral gallery at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., USA Maintained by the museum.

Mineral and Fossil Museums, Exhibits & Displays in the USA Maintained by OsoSoft Mineral Connection, USA.

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum A super museum to visit. Photos of copper & other minerals of the Lake Superior Copper District. Maintained by the museum, Houghton, Michigan, USA

Creetown Gem Rock Museum, Scottland Learn about gemstones, crystals, rocks, and minerals from this useful guide.

Voyageur Heritage Network – museums in Northern Ontario –

Where to Go – Outdoor Rocks to Look At

Seeing rocks in nature is probably the best way to get hooked on how cool they really are! Rocks were meant to be touched and if you’re lucky – climbed on! 🙂

Here are some places within driving distance of Toronto, Ontario.

Ball’s Falls Conservation Area Jordan, ON This is a beautiful part of southern Ontario where rock formations are evident at the falls. Many interesting things to do in the area as well.

Bon Echo Provincial Park Bon Echo, ON This provincial park north of Napanee is known for the Mazinaw Rock cliff on Mazinaw Lake. It features over 250 native pictographs.

Bonnechere Caves Eganville, ON Caves that have stalactites & fossils in limestone caves. The area is known as the Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada.

Don Valley Brickworks Quarry Toronto, ON This site is now run by the Evergreen Foundation and is very family-friendly. For a write up of the geology you will see on the North Wall, check out –

Greenmantle Farm – Mineral Occurrence Wilberforce, ON Mineral Eco Tours This location provides guided tours and allows you to see rocks but not collect them.

The owners will however direct you to local collecting spots where collecting is permitted. If you are interested in Geo-caching – they may be of help as well.

Haliburton Highlands Recreational Geology Haliburton, ON Day trips in the Haliburton Region.

Killbear Provincial Park Parry Sound, ON Gorgeous outcrops of rocks surround the Georgian Bay Peninsula.

The rocks here have inspired artists & rockhounds with their layered, flowing beauty.

Marmoraton Iron Mine Marmora, ON This abandoned iron mine is an open-pit mine operating from 1955 to 1979.

A lookout provides visitors with a view of the water-filled pit. Although the mine itself is off-limits, much of the dark gravel in the area contains magnetite so take your magnet with you.

Ontario’s Highlands Comfort County, Haliburton Highlands, Land O’Lakes, North Hastings, Ottawa Valley South, Upper Ottawa Valley Recreational Geology

Peter Russell Rock Garden – University of Waterloo, Waterloo ON This is a publicly accessible “Rock Garden” created to commemorate the founding of the University of Waterloo.

It has spectacularly large specimens of rocks familiar to anyone who has done extensive rockhounding in Ontario.

Recreational Geology in Ontario

Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour (Hollinger Mine) Timmins, ON Underground Gold Mine tour, panning for gold, mine site exploration

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 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 sled. Never try to break a specimen by hitting it with the pointed end of geologists’ pick.
  • Do not use regular tools like hammers, chisels, woodworking chisels, axes, etc., to break your rocks.
    They weren’t designed for this, and you will damage them and 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 your 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 property without permission.

field trip otter lake


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 the 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.

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 colored materials, vugs (holes), or sparkles.

As you’re driving along the road, keep your 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 flatter.

If you look closely, you will see interesting designs in the rocks and many different colors. 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 with road cuts, so be sure to 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 to get a better look at the rocks. You’ll be surprised by the amount of garbage 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 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.


Start 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 –;=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 –


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 place that allows “rock farm collecting.”

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, and the Bonnechere Museum hosts a local fossil hunt.;=1695


Haliburton Rocks! The Celebrity Adventure Haliburton, ON

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.

Michael J Bainbridge Photography Minden This photography studio will photograph your mineral collection & guide you to local collecting sites.

Mineral Eco Tours – Greenmantle Farm Mineral Occurrence Wilberforce, ON

Highland Grove

Drury Occurrence ~ titanite, apatite

Kakabeka Falls

Blueberry Amethyst Inc. ~ amethyst

Pass Lake

Danville Amethyst Mines ~ amethyst


Blue Points Amethyst Mine This past summer, several rockhounds had spectacular collecting experiences in Thunder Bay. Although there are several amethyst fees for collecting sites in Thunder bay, not all of them are created equal.

I have heard 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

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

Thunder Bay

Amethyst Mine Panorama Thunder Bay, ON Fee collecting location – collect your own amethyst, Guided & self-guided tours.

Ontario Gem Company Amethyst Mine

Thunder Bay Agate Mine ~ agate

Precious Purple Gemstones Ltd. ~ amethyst


Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour (Hollinger Mine) Timmins, ON Underground Gold Mine tour, panning for gold, mine site exploration


~ This site is open to the public as long as a permit is obtained from the Wilberforce Municipal office or local stores. A report on a collecting experience can be found at

For more information, check out Natural Resources Canada ~ ONTARIO Fee Collecting Sites –

Experiments with Rocks and Minerals

Calcium Acetate Experiment Calcium Acetate Experiment

Calcium Acetate Crystals

What you need: eggshells, vinegar (pickling vinegar s stronger and faster), container:

  • Pour 250 mL pickling vinegar into the plastic tub (500 mL)
  • Crush eggshells and add to liquid.
  • Observe immediate reaction for 5 minutes
  • Pickling vinegar will create immediate bubbles (carbon dioxide), and the smaller pieces will be floated up to the surface on the gas bubbles.
  • Regular vinegar will not have as much of a pronounced effect, but careful observation over a few days will show that there are less visible eggshell materials – namely, it is dissolving
  • Place container in a warm spot where it can be undisturbed & observe changes every few days.
  • Evaporation & deposition will occur. Botryoidal crystal shapes will form on the sides of the tub. Looks like popcorn.

Calcium Acetate Crystals

What you need:

  • eggshells
  • vinegar (pickling vinegar stronger and faster)
  • container

So, here we are, putting an end to this gigantic post. Leave your comments below.

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5 thoughts on “Rockhounding as a Hobby [Complete Beginner’s Guide]”

  1. I am an elementary school librarian. I ask that you please post credentials and copyright information for your website. I will not use your website as a resource for my students if we cannot prove the information is from a creditable source.

  2. Introductory Resources for Exploring the Geology of Ontario. I have compiled an annotated list of publications and internet resources for exploring the geology of Ontario. The compilation covers a broad range of topics and ranges in difficulty from “don’t know anything about geology” on up to a more advanced level. Although not specifically written for kids, I am sure that you will find some useful stuff. For a free pdf copy, send an email to


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