Rockhound don’t despair, Ontario is a treasure trove of gem deposits – especially near Bancroft
Above: Diopside or tremolite, I cant remember which, but I found it at this amazing road cutting near Wilberforce.
As I have mentioned in prevoius posts, I have a book that is in with a publisher right now – its huge and will have to be trimmed down if they want to publish it. The following is an extract from my chapter on finding gem diopside crystals in Ontario …
“According to Chris Fouts, the main face of the cutting is a pyroxenite skarn cut by coarse-grained calcite veins. The really impressive crystals occur right along the contact between the country rock and the intruding calcite veins.
No doubt, this advice is true, but as my friend, the proprietor of Starlite Gems in Wilberforce told me, the best place to dig is in the dirt right below the tree roots. Apparently last year ambitious collectors knocked over four big trees around the lip of the exposure. Chief amongst those trees was a birch whose roots had clutched several translucent tremolite crystals, some of the blocks as big as a quart of milk and “as green as grass”, he told us. He rummaged in a grubby box that he kept beneath the counter, tossing aside lesser specimens and finally, with a triumphant grin producing a sizeable spike of deep green tremolite. “I was up there a couple of weeks ago and I found this in the dirt beside the road.”
I was amazed by the discovery and even more surprised when he agreed to sell it for $5. Apparently the best diopside and tremolite crystals are buried beneath the road. It supposedly shears off the top of several calcite veins.
This exciting find, tossed aside with so little regard, suggested the existence of far more spectacular treasures somewhere under the forest floor. It set me off in a fever of poking and scavenging. I had been unable to find the toppled birch of which I had heard but I burrowed deep into the sand, further undermining the already tenuous placement of the trees on the forest side of the ridge”.