Mineral Collecting

Mineral collection sites closed

We have closed all mineral collection sites in Highlands East as a COVID-19 safety measure. Collection permits will not be issued. Learn more.

Mineral collecting is a fun outdoor activity. Adults and kids alike will delight in the chance to dig for buried treasure, and bring home some colourful gems of your very own!

Our collection sites

There are three sites where you can collect minerals in Highlands East at no charge. Two of the sites (Schickler and Desmont) require you to get a permission to collect form and are located near Wilberforce. Directions will be given with the permission to collect form. You do not need permission to collect at the Gibson Road site.

Getting permission to collect online

To get a permission form online:

  1. download the waiver of liability
  2. fill it in completely, including a full address and have it witnessed
  3. scan and email it back to us.

Make sure to include which sites (Desmont and/or Schickler) you wish to visit and what dates you will be visiting in your email. 

We will email you back a signed and dated permission to collect form. Permission forms are valid for two consecutive days.

Getting permission to collect in person

From mid-May to Thanksgiving, we recommend you go to the Visitor Information Centre in Wilberforce to get your permission form.

Highlands East Visitor Information Centre

2786 Essonville Line (at Loop Rd.), Wilberforce
Phone: 705-448-2981 x 432
Open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Tuesdays (mid-May to Thanksgiving)

Highlands East Municipal Office

2249 Loop Rd. Wilberforce

Phone 705-448-2981

Open Monday to Friday 9:00 am. to 4:30 p.m.

Agnew's General Store

2248 Loop Road, Wilberforce
Phone: 705-448-2211 

Wilberforce Foodland

2763 Essonville Line, Wilberforce,
705-448-2811

Tamarack Lodge

1003 English Circle, Gooderham
705-559-5972
Open Daily from May 1 to November 15

Minerals

Highlands East is proud to be the first municipality in Ontario to take steps to secure public mineral collecting sites.

We are world famous for fine specimens of:

  • gem green apatitegreen fluorapatite
  • deep purple fluorite

Large crystals of collector minerals like:

  • mica
  • tremolite
  • zircon
  • titanite
  • feldspar

And rare and unusual species like:

fluororichterite

  • fluororichterite
  • stillwellite

Schickler Fluorite Occurrence 

This site was explored for fluorite in the early-to-mid 1900s, and you can still easily find gemmy fluorite in colours ranging from colourless to rose-red, to deep amethyst purple in white calcite on the rock piles.

Associated with fluorite in the calcite are:

  • hexagonal crystals of red/green apatite
  • yellow scapolite
  • buff coloured feldspar
  • green pyroxene

The Schickler occurrence is only one potential collecting site of many on the 400 acre Crown property – come prepared to do some exploring!

Desmont Mine (Homer Yellowknife Prospect) 

This site has been explored for various rare elements in the past, but as was so often the case, nothing of economic potential was found. There are a number of small workings on the property where you can find beautiful and unusual mineral specimens.

It has long been a popular rock hound destination for:

  • hexagonal plates of silvery molybdenite
  • emerald green diopside
  • rare mineral stillwellite (which can be identified as small (5mm), tabular crystals and coatings with a distinctive maroon-red colour)

These, as well as other minerals are found in orange and white calcite near the workings.

Gibsons Road East Occurrence (Titanite Hill) 

Here you will find part of a large deposit that made this area famous amongst mineral collectors.

A series of calcite veins carry:

  • large crystals of gem green apatite
  • buff coloured feldspar,
  • lustrous brown titanite
  • black fluororichterite

Occurrences like this are known from Gooderham (the Bear Lake Diggings) to Wilberforce (Liscombe Mine). This one is very similar to both, but is easily accessible, and the reward is often greater. You will see where other collectors have uncovered parts of these veins, showing you where and how these minerals occur. From there you can pick though what has been left behind, or dig around to find a new vein! You can download a Gibson Road Occurrence brochure.

Bear Lake Diggings closed to the public

Please note that the Bear Lake Diggings are no longer open to the public and is now private property.

More information about Geology throughout the Highlands is available in the downloadable Ontario's Highlands Geology Brochure.

Guided tours

Greenmantle Farms

As fun as poking around in the woods looking for buried treasure can be, you may want to get some local advice to point you in the right direction. At Greenmantle Farms you can take a guided tour of some great natural exposures of local minerals and get some insight into their formation. Mineral collecting is not permitted at this site. Cameras are welcome, but hammers are not.

Yours Outdoors

For a more complete guided package, check out the offerings of Yours Outdoors – a local outdoor experience company. From weekend getaways with guided tours and collecting excursions, to full vacation packages, your host, Barry Martin, will help make sure your Highlands experience rocks.