Get Close to Nature by Rockhounding for Minerals

A boy and a girl looking at gems on display behind a glass case on shelves

Bancroft and the northern region of 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.

Looking to go rockhounding?

Geologist Chris Fouts is coordinating Mineral Collecting Field Trips. For more information and dates checkout the Lakeside Gems website.

Here are a few “must stop at” locations (call in advance to confirm their hours during COVID):

  • 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 – Grab a guide at the Marmora Tourism Centre and wander The Miner’s Loop to walk in the shoes of miners long ago, who ended their long work weeks by traveling from town to town to catch up on news and gossip. Learn the story of the area’s gold and iron deposits, wrestled from the Earth; it may change the way you think about your day job.Explore “Upper Canada’s First Mining Town” and unique sites around the Municipality of Marmora and Lake.
  • Rockhound Gemboree – (CANCELLED FOR 2021) 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: