Rockhounding

Bancroft and the surrounding region known as North Hastings is one of the most unique areas geologically in the entire world!  With almost 90% of all types of minerals found on earth located in North Hastings, Bancroft is a major destination for recreational rock hounding enthusiasts and is known as the "Mineral Capital of Canada". For over fifty years, tens of thousands of mineral enthusiasts have traveled to Bancroft to experience the annual Rockhound Gemboree.

The first discovery of gold in Ontario was made in 1866 on the Richardson farm near Madoc. The find sparked a gold rush to the Madoc area and miners looking for gold combed much of the surrounding area, including Deloro and Eldorado. In Marmora there is an open pit mine (Marmora Mine Site) that has been flooded by an underground spring to resemble a small lake. A groomed walking trail runs beside the mine where one can still find minerals lying on the ground.

Learn about the different types of rocks and minerals in Hastings County. Contact the Bancroft & District Chamber of Commerce to buy their Mineral Collecting Guidebook, which details self-guided trips for over 15 collecting sites.  The Bancroft Chamber is also an outlet for selling permits to collect at Bear Lake Diggings.

Discovery Tours by The Bancroft Chamber

Gems and Minerals – A geologist will explain the best method of collection for the specific site, help you identify the minerals and provide information on the geology of the area. You will also learn interesting natural features, native animals and invasive or indigenous plants. This tour runs July and August on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (registration at 9am). The fee is $15/adult, $10/children under 16.

Looking to get rockhounding?

Here are a few "must stop at" locations:

  • Bancroft Mineral Museum Display – Focuses on mineral heritage in the region and mineral collecting with mineral guidebooks for purchase.
  • Princess Sodalite Mine Rock Shop – View local and worldwide mineral and fossil specimens and shop gemstone jewellery, rock crafts, and gifts.
  • Marmoraton Iron Mine – Come and explore the area, where underground streams and rainfall have filled this abandoned, open pit mine with water.
  • The Miner's Loop - see Ontario’s First Gold Mine, one of North America’s largest iron deposits, and a Nationally-significant ore-processing plant.
  • Rockhound Gemboree – Canada’s largest gem and mineral show, bringing together more than 100 dealers of fine mineral specimens, gemstone jewellery, and lapidary supplies.
  • Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves - Featuring guided tours of Ontario's largest natural cavern, people from near and far are now discovering the adventure and history of this natural wonder.

Here's a video produced by the Ontario's Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) about the Princess Sodalite Mine in Bancroft.

Want to learn more about the heritage-rich activity known as recreational geology? 

Check out the following publications:

  • Geology and Scenery, Peterborough, Bancroft and Madoc Area by D.F. Hewitt of the Ontario Geological Survey
  • Rocks and Minerals of Ontario by D.F. Hewitt and E.B. Freeman
  • Mineral Collecting Guide, Ontario Canada – About mineral collecting or "rockhounding" in Ontario

 

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