The immense nation of Canada boasts profound mineral and precious metal deposits throughout its wildly varying terrain. Rockhounds can seek many kinds of crystals found in Canada, provided they follow safety precautions and pay attention to permit requirements.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Canada boasts profound mineral and precious metal deposits throughout its wildly varying terrain, from amethysts to ammolite, spinels to sapphires, and more. Rockhounds can seek many kinds of crystals found in Canada, provided they follow safety precautions and pay attention to permit requirements.
Canadian Precious Metals and Gems List
Canadian precious metals and gems range from gold, silver, and copper metal ore to precious and semi-precious gems. Crystals found in Canada that are precious or semi-precious gems include opal, blue spinel, corundum (rubies and sapphires), garnet, beryl, amethyst, amber, fluorite, peridot, agate, jasper, onyx, ammolite, tourmaline and lapis lazuli.
Gemstone Mining in Canada
Given the prevalence of crystals found in Canada, gemstone mining is an important source of revenue. Some gem mines allow visitors. Guests can either choose to look and dig for gemstones themselves or peruse already unearthed rocks to look for crystals.
Some of the gemstone mining operations of Canada include the Princess Sodalite Mine in Bancroft, Ontario, including its Rock Farm. Here you can dig through over one hundred kinds of minerals and crystals. Amethyst Mine Panorama east of Thunder Bay in Ontario has operated for over 35 years as a family-friendly source for amethyst crystals. Ontario is famed for its amethyst supply. This region is the source of the largest amethyst deposit in Canada.
Commercial mines for crystals found in Canada include the Bonanza mica mine near Tete Jaune Cache in British Columbia for beryl; the Rock Candy Mine near Grand Forks, British Columbia for fluorite; and near Atlin Lake, Dease Lake, McDame, and other areas of British Columbia that mine for nephrite. In Alberta, the exquisite and prized gemstone ammolite is mined in the Korite Mine.
Places to Dig for Gems in Canada
Throughout Canada, there are numerous locations where you can dig for gemstones. Some areas even have them visible above the ground.
In British Columbia, numerous places to dig for gems can be found. For amber, look along the Peace River Canyon and on Graham Island in the Queen Charlotte Islands. For beryl, Fort Graham in the Buttle Range is a good source for blue-green gems (blue beryl is also known as aquamarine). The Pend Oreille River boasts some gem-quality sapphires. Varying hues of fluorite can be found at Rock Candy Mine.
Almandite crystals of up to three centimeters in diameter may be found in the Stikine River. A source of peridot is Timothy Mountain, producing large stones of high quality. Fire opal may be found along Deadman Creek. Nephrite can be found along the lower parts of the Fraser River. Kamloops Lake is famed for its precious opals, amethysts, chalcedony and other gemstones.
If you can visit remote Baffin Island, the numerous precious jewels nearly underfoot will reward your exploration. Exceedingly rare cobalt-blue spinel has been discovered in abundance on the island. Baffin Island’s unique mix of mud and high-magnesium limestone transformed via pressure and nearly two billion years to form blue spinel. The quality of cobalt-blue spinel on the island is superb, with about 500 parts-per-million of cobalt, resulting in the rich blue color.
At low tide in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, crystals ranging from amethyst to agate to jasper can be found in the exposed rock. In the Red Deer River of Alberta, geodes, quartz, agates and other gemstones can be found, but do note that removal of rocks is not allowed on parkland. The Souris Agate and Gravel Pits of Manitoba hosts North America’s largest deposit of agates and petrified woods; permits are mandatory.
Your Gem Mining Kit
Prepare yourself for gem hunting in Canada by first paying attention to safety and permit requirements. Pack water and food, and wear closed-toe shoes. When you visit places to dig for gems, bring a rock hammer, a chisel, a shovel (this can vary in size depending on what you’re digging for), a basket or tote and protective covering for any treasures you may find (to prevent scratching).
Useful additions to this gem mining kit might be a pickaxe, a magnifying glass and a little sledgehammer. Always wear protective safety glasses when you hammer anything.
- CBC News: Canadian Arctic Has All the Mineral Ingredients for Prized Blue Gemstones
- Canadian Institute of Gemmology: Gemstones of British Columbia
- Superior Country: Amethyst – The Official Gemstone of Ontario
- University of Waterloo: Northern Ontario Minerals
- CBC News: 'It's Like Nothing Else on Earth': Rarest of Gemstones Fuels Boom for Alberta Miners
- EnRoute: Gem Hunting: Where to Find Crystals in Nature Across Canada
About the Author
J. Dianne Dotson is a science writer with a degree in zoology/ecology and evolutionary biology. She spent nine years working in laboratory and clinical research. A lifelong writer, Dianne is also a content manager and science fiction and fantasy novelist. Dianne features science as well as writing topics on her website, jdiannedotson.com.