Ontario-the Gemstone Capital of Canada!!

April 26, 2019

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photo credit: nice trails

This is how I imagine my rock hounding forays to be but alas they are not: reality is dusty dirty hot (and often rocky) roads, creek beds and lakeshores picking through sharp I-don’t-know-what-they-are-at-the-moment stones hauling my pick axe and bucket, stubbing my toes and grinding my knees.  O the joy of it!

Toronto is a real dead zone when it comes to rock hounding. What is a “rock hound” you may ask yourself? The definition according to my memory of random information is a person that, often compulsively, searches for stone material and formations in their natural habitat as a hobby.

Ontario is the “Gem Capital” of Canada…with an abundance of Ruby, Amethyst and Moonstone to name just a few. The epi-center, Toronto, has nothing…kind of like the eye of a geological gemstone storm.

And I mean NOTHING gemstone like-Basalt, Bedrock, Limestone, Granite, Marble and Gneiss is as spectacular as it gets. I could dig 400 meters and pluck me some good old 3 million year old bedrock, but my fingers would be pretty raw.  This is about the time that water started forming channels into bedrock and formed the Great Lakes.  North America was already formed 150 Million Years before that with the 300 Million year old Great Continent of Pangea doing it’s thing and breaking up into the World as we now know it. The Toronto region is what remains of the now under-sediment layers known as the Laurentian Channel.

Once, I found a metallic vug within a sizable chunk of Basalt. The metal component somehow torn from it’s birthplace up North when glaziers rampaged Canada during the conclusion of the last big Ice Age 2.5 million years ago (or perhaps during the glazier retreat of 14,000 years ago). And to make it even more desirable, the metal had been molten when the vug formed laying ripples upon its-self as it cooled after it possibly spewed from a volcano.

That is my story and I’m sticking to it!  Some have said that it is just slag (man-made metal or glass debris). However I don’t know how the slag, if it is, would have been dripped from a machinist into undisturbed Basalt containing fossilized crinoids.  Feel free to give me your opinion!  I am certainly no expert!

I carved the piece into a sort of trapezoid and was very careful not to disturb the vug too much. It sits beside me every day and is one of my favorite specimens. The large chunk of which it was contained rests in a box to be further explored.

As does this yet to be determined piece…something volcanic judging by the bubbles.


There are plenty of areas that contain fossils though. Clams, trilobites, brachiopods, gastropods and trilobites used to rampage Toronto in the muddy lime-rich waters that was our prehistoric landscape.

The time is coming soon for me to venture out!  I’ll be returning to the location where I found the basalt in the coming months.  Just as exciting…the Toronto Lakeshore is chock-full of fossils!  I look forward to gleaning more specimens and knowledge of the local geological history as well as a trip to one of the many abandoned mines up North.  Here are a few images of my fossil finds: (crinoids, brachiopods and trilobites)

Happy Hunting for those that do!

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