Whenever we visit some place new, we try to maximize our time and take in as much as possible…trying the local/traditional food, seeing the touristy and non-touristy spots, visiting local parks, etc.
After a trip to the Canadian Museum of Nature, Zach was intrigued by the amount of minerals found in the area and discovered that you can hunt for your own gemstones not too far from Ottawa, in Bancroft (“Canada’s Gemstone Capital!”). So, on a sunny day, we packed up and took a beautiful 3-hour drive west of Ottawa to get our gemstone hunting on.
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After stopping at the Bancroft Gemstone Museum where we picked up a local guide to the hunting areas, we headed a bit further to Wilberforce, ON. At the general store there, you sign a waiver and get a permit to collect. You can also do this the the city hall but we picked up some snack and stuff so it worked out better for us to fill out the forms there (plus they had ice cream). They gave us more specific directions and so we headed out to find the spot.
Following the directions, we took the stroller up a mountain on trails I’m positive it was not meant for…Props to Baby Trend on it’s durability! Levi just loved bumping along and I’m sure we made quite the scene with mom loaded down with tools and dad man-handling a stroller up the steep trail with a baby that can’t stop laughing.
At the top of the trail and after a bit of work, we finally located the collecting sites (called trenches) and got to work!
Zach did all the heavy work, digging out a pit while I sifted through looking for gemstones. Levi’s job was to promptly try to fill in any hole Zach dug ot get inside of it…He was pretty good at that 😀
As with anything new, there was a bit of a learning curve and if you go, I highly recommend bringing the following tools:
- Water (for rinsing stones to see what you have)
- 1-2 Buckets
- Garden pick tool (weeder)
Thankfully we had the majority of those items but the hammer and garden pick would have been SUPER helpful.
We didn’t find any huge crystals but we didn’t leave empty handed either!
Most importantly though, we had so much fun as a family that I know for sure this won’t be our last time gemstone hunting!