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What is a Rockhound? 

Have you ever, while out on a walk or a hike, picked up an interesting or colorful rock and wondered why it looks different from all the others you see? Or have you chanced upon a fossilized rock and thought it would be nice to know what kind of animal or plant left its mark there? Perhaps you have come across a crevice or a hole in a rock containing natural mineral crystals and wondered what they were and how they got there? Or maybe you have asked yourself about the origin of a beautiful piece of stone or gem jewelry? If you have ever questioned any of these things, then there is probably a "rockhound" buried inside you.

A "rockhound" is someone who gets past the "wondering" stage and decides to actively collect, catalogue and study mineral and/or fossil specimens. There is nothing that will quite match the feeling of that first "real find" and it will certainly whet the appetite to pursue the hobby further. Those of us who are already collectors recommend it highly as a wonderful activity for both young and old; in fact, it can provide a real common interest for the whole family. 

What equipment is needed?

Well, since we cannot yet order spare parts for our bodies, as we can for our cars at the local automobile dealership, safety equipment is the first requisite before going field collecting. Steel toe safety boots ("green patch"), a hard hat, orange safety (construction) vest, good safety goggles and a comprehensive first aid kit are all mandatory on CCFMS organized field trips and should be considered when collecting on your own. The orange vest is particularly handy if in the bush during hunting season!

Beyond the safety equipment, rockhounding gear may vary from the most basic, right up to some rather sophisticated equipment.

Getting Started

New collectors may well be at a loss as to how to get going in the hobby - what to look for and where to find it. The CCFMS website is a good start! Check out the hobby news and online resources pages. Various guide books and periodicals can be obtained from mineral dealers or the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. However, the best way to learn is to talk and collect with other "rockhounds". You can meet them by joining one of the clubs listed.

Where to collect

As residents of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador, we are privileged to have some of the best collecting areas in North America. Nature has left us the legacy of a varied and interesting geology. Combine this fact with extensive quarrying, mining, mine exploration operations and road development which bare the fossil and mineral deposits and the result is prime collecting potential in the form of mine dumps, pits and road cuts. It would be impossible to mention all locations where collecting is permitted, however both the CCFMS and its member clubs regularly organize collecting field trips to the prime areas.

The Lapidary Arts

After learning to appreciate the beauty of natural mineral specimens, many collectors develop an interest in the lapidary arts, the creation of jewellery and art items from natural materials. Some of these crafts are:

  • Cabochon cutting, shaping, polishing and setting rock and mineral specimens.
  • Silver and gold wire work.
  • Faceting of gem stones.
  • Tumbling - polishing of rough material
  • Carving of workable rock such as soapstone.

 


This page was last modified on December 12, 2010
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