Bancroft, Ontario is a small Canadian town located in the heart of central Ontario, about 240 km (around a 3 hour drive) west of Ottawa. It is picturesque, and not far from Algonquin Provincial Park. It’s considered the mineral mapital of Canada.

Bancroft sits on the Canadian Shield, a geographic area including central and eastern Canada. It consists of some of the planet’s oldest rock, estimated at between 1.1 and 1.8 billion years old! Bancroft is rich in mineral deposits, and over 1600 different minerals have been identified in the area.

A few weeks ago, I went with a couple friends to enjoy Canada’s largest gem and mineral show, the Bancroft Gemboree. We arrived on Saturday, and promptly headed to the community centre. There were a lot of great vendors selling cut gemstones, mineral samples from around the world, geodes and sculptures. There were gold panning demonstrations as well, but for our first day, there was a fair bit of shopping and drooling over all the glittery gems.

The following day, we joined up with several other people and visited the Beryl Pit. We got to dig around among piles of freshly-overturned rock, and between us we found some great samples of clear quartz, smoky quartz, peristerite, tourmaline, and even a couple small beryls (deep green aquamarines). It was sunny and hot but we filled our buckets until we could barely carry them.

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