TBT: Amethyst Mining Somewhere in Canada


March 27, 2014 by Terumi

cat on barbeque

The other day an unexpected visitor showed up at our house.  I was pretending to clean up  stuff in our office and I got that weird, someone’s-watching-me feeling and sure enough, I looked out the window and this beautiful cat had decided our barbecue was a perfect place to nap.  He(she?) stayed there for quite a while and just as I started getting used to the idea of having a new cat pet ( the kids even named it Sophia) it vanished.  I wonder if it will ever come back or if it was just a one-nap-cat kind of deal?
But seeing the cat made me notice this amethyst rock on our windowsill and that brought me back 15 years when the hubby and I decided to mark the year 2000 with a drive both ways across Canada.  We had no gps or phones in those days. We barely used the interwebs.  Facebook wasn’t even born.  It was us, a map, our Lonely Planet, limited funds and free spirits.
Somewhere along the drive, I’m thinking in Manitoba or Ontario I read that there was an amethyst mine.  We’d already stopped at the worlds biggest thermometer (a painted plywood monstrosity), the world’s biggest dump truck and every visitor’s centre along the way.  How could we not stop at an amethyst mine???

We followed the coordinates in the guidebook and drove the hubby’s dad’s car ( we’re totally lucky he trusted us with his new car for this trip!) up a scary dirt road.  A couple minutes in we wanted to turn around but there was no place to turn because the road was too narrow and steep.  So we bumped and tumbled along for what seemed like forever and ended up in a sandy, rocky area where we met an older gentleman in what looked like his residence and he handed us an ice cream bucket and a hammer.  He sent us to a large crevice I think he must have blasted open himself with dynamite and told us how to search for the precious rocks. It was the strangest and most wonderful adventure.  We were there in the middle of summer in the hot sun and there was no one else there.  And sure enough we found beautiful amethysts hiding in all that dust and rock.  We could have stayed awhile but we were only part way in our journey across the country and the rocks were too heavy to carry too many and we were a little worried if we stayed too long we might not ever find our way back.  But with the scary road, the grizzly sweet mountain man and the magic of finding beautiful sparkly rocks in the middle of a homemade mine it is one of the most memorable parts of our trip from so many years ago.

tbt mining amethysts in 2000

So ignore the scary neon outfit, and remember this was before the digital age and this is the only picture I have documenting this amazing moment and I’d love to know where it was.  I think back then we had 6 rolls of film for the whole trip and I don’t think we could have predicted a time when I would have re-shot this same scene 1000 times in my phone to get the best picture and angle and have the exact date and place it was taken recorded forever. So if you’ve traveled to Manitoba or Ontario or you know someone who lives that way, could you tell me if this place still exists and where it is.  I’d definitely love to go back and explore!  Or if you have a post about any kind of rock-finding adventure, I’d love to read it too because I think my guys would love this sort of thing.   Happy Thursday and who knows what you can find when you look back a little, right?  (Ugh.  Baby blue pants.  What was I thinking???)

1 comment »

  1. Terumi says:

    I ran my own search and I think it might actually be in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I found an article here: http://www.explore-mag.com/dig-into-history-at-the-amethyst-mines and a whole list of mines and stores you can visit here: http://www.thunderbay.ca/Visiting/Attractions_and_Adventure/things_to_see_and_do/local_gems.htm so hopefully we’ll get a chance to go back and visit one day soon:)

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