In Rock Hound Heaven
Cottage country in Ontario, Canada, is largely built on the Canadian Shield—which makes rock hunting a fun summer activity for all the rock hounds in your family!
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About a decade ago, I moved from the city to the Haliburton Highlands with my partner, Gary Blundell. Gary and I are both professional artists and he also has a degree in geology. The Highlands, as this area is known to locals, is situated in the Kawartha Lakes region of central Ontario, Canada, and, along with hundreds of lakes and vast untouched wilderness, it’s a paradise for rock hounds.
Rock hounds are people who love collecting rocks—and yes, my geologist partner is one of them. What I once thought was an eccentricity I would have to get used to, I now believe to be a really wonderful hobby. Rocks tell stories that usually involve the creation of everything. It just doesn’t get any more elemental and fascinating.
We spend a lot of time stopping at road cuts on the beautiful highways up here, taking pictures and samples of rocks. We have a huge collection of rocks from all over the world, including a lovely collection from our own backyard!
High above sea level, the Highlands sit on the Precambrian shield and its treasure trove of fine minerals and gems. The area is known internationally for apatite, hornblende, tremolite, actinolite, orthoclase and quartz. There is also a rare deposit of fluororichterite. In other words, it’s a spectacular place for rock enthusiasts—this place is just crazy with them.
Here in the Highlands, rock collecting is encouraged. There’s lots of crown land where you can go ahead and fill your pockets. You will find buried treasure everywhere. There are guided tours and experts who can point you in the right direction.
Rock collecting is also a great family activity that is absolutely free. We bring our nieces and nephews out every time they visit. Rock hounding, as the insiders call it, involves hiking outdoors, seeing the natural world and engaging with the surface of the earth. Most children who are taken rock collecting at an early age stay rock enthusiasts for life. All you need is water, bug repellant, a picnic, buckets for the rocks and the right directions.
The R.D. Lawrence Place in Minden has a mineral display, the Bear Lake Digs in Highlands East are open seven days a week for hikes and the Frost Centre, near Carnarvon, has many hiking trails with stunning finds throughout.
Some sites are easy to find, others not so much. There is currently a detailed guide book in the works for the public, but unfortunately it won’t be ready this summer. But, if you aren’t that adventurous, you can still stop on the road by a rock cut and you will likely find something interesting to take home. In the Haliburton Highlands, no one would look twice.