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Volume 1,Issue 2

Collecting in Bancroft Ontario
By Pat Barker

In early August a group of seven North Shore Mineral Club members moved north for ten days to attend the famed Gemboree in Bancroft Ontario and also to do some serious collecting. Josephine MacIndewar, Priscilla Lockwood, and I drove in Prisicilla's van. Priscilla's van got sidetracked in Gananoque, Ontario where I remember collecting flat quartz crystals as a teenager.  The quartz had been mined for the war effort.  No one, of course, knew anything about that at the Information Booth.  However, we enjoyed the pond, swans, elaborate fountain, and charming flowerbeds.
Our next stop was in Madoc, famous for its green fluorite.  The senior citizens working at the information booth knew all about fluorite mines, but for safety reasons they were off limits.  However, they told us confidentially, that if we were very careful, (since we looked to be responsible elders) they would tell us where to find one of the fluorite locations.  First we must park our car in a picnic area and then sort of casually ooze off into the under-growth.  Greatly enthused, we rushed to the site only to find a two-foot high sea of poison ivy.  Oh well. Continuing on to Bancroft a 3:30 p.m., we found the Chamber of Commerce in an uproar.  They said they were expecting a crowd of 15,000 visitors over the next four days.  Not only was the Gemboree in progress, but there was an antique car rally and an arts and crafts fair going on as well. The Mineral Museum is at the Chamber of Commerce building also, but it is badly lit and very dusty.  Next time we will carry flashlights!   However, by peering, we could see some very beautiful Madoc fluorite and some monster apatites, amphiboles, and titanites, etc.  Since we have returned home we have learned that the Chamber of Commerce Mineral Museum is due for a major overhaul in 2001.  We also visited the Historical Society Museum, which is worth a look and had a much cleaner, better lit, and labeled mineral collection on display. August 3rd, opening day, we made the mistake of signing up for a field trip (we will know better next time) to the Craigmont Corundum Mines.  A steep climb on a very hot day, clouds of deerflies, and mighty unattractive specimens persuaded Priscilla and me to flee the field.  Later we heard that members of our group didn't dally at the prescribed collecting site, but ranged over the whole area and had better luck. Priscilla and I headed back to the Show by way of the Eagles Nest lookout where we enjoyed the pretty view and cooling breezes with many other spectators  It didn't take us long to find that the Bancroft Show had dealers pretty much like many of our own at the Sunapee Show.  We agreed it was hardly worth driving eleven hours to see minerals from Arizona, Mexico, and Brazil.  However, the "Swappers" or tailgaters section was entirely another matter (rather a duplicate of the Franklin, NJ Show).  Here, about 25 Canadian collectors had tables just loaded with choice local material at bargain basement prices.  Prices were mainly in the $1 to $5 CN range, with a few items up to $15 CN. The "silver pick" was definitely the way to go.  Delightful people, most anxious to chat, made us feel very welcome.  Several tailgaters had lovely Madoc fluorite specimens without the poison ivy!  I was delighted to find several tables with nice Newfoundland specimens.

          (to be continued next Month)