Canada Rocks and Minerals

Collectible rocks and minerals are found in every province and territory in Canada.

Canada is the second largest country in the world. It is the world leader in the production of potash and ranks among the top five world producers for diamonds, gemstones, gold, indium, niobium, platinum group metals, titanium concentrate and uranium.

Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Newfoundland account for over three quarters of Canada's valuable mineral production. Some of the best places to find rocks and minerals in Canada include Bancroft, Ontario, where you can find apatite, tourmaline, and quartz; the Rockies in British Columbia, where you can find aquamarine and amethyst; and the Yukon, where you can find gold and garnets.

Gold mines and gold mining have occurred in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. As of 2023, there are 127 active gold mines in Canada, most of them in Ontario and Quebec. These two provinces produce and refine most of the gold found in Canada, and the most prolific mine, the Canadian Malartic Mine, is located in western Quebec.

Alberta-Most of this province is part of the continental plain of Canada, boarded by the Rocky Mountains on the west. Alberta is known for its fossils, especially ammolite and very colorful variety of ammonite. Ammolite is the official gemstone of Alberta. Diamonds have been discovered in west-central and southern Alberta. Alberta has some of the strictest rules and regulations in Canada, so do some research before collecting. Petrified Wood is Alberta’s official mineral.

British Columbia- Most of British Columbia is mountains, from the Rockies to the Coast range. Most of the mineralization is in the western ranges, while vast quantities of quartz, jade, and petrified wood are located in the gravel along the rivers. Varieties of rocks such as porphyries, dallasite and rhodonite have been found on Vancouver Island. At Kamloops Lake you can find opals, agates, light purple amethyst, and other minerals and crystals. Large deposits of jade found in British Columbia have made it the Jade capital of the world, and it was named the Provincial Gemstone in 1969.

Manitoba-Northwestern Manitoba is covered by ancient rocks. The southwestern corner is a plateau of younger sedimentary rocks. In central Manitoba lies the Flin Flon greenstone belt, one of the largest Paleoproterozoic volcanic-hosted massive sulfide districts in the world, containing 27 copper, zinc and gold deposits. Dinosaur remains and other the fossils from the Late Cretaceous are found in the Ashville Formation in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. You can purchase a permit to dig for agates, petrified wood and fossils at the Souris Agate and Gravel Pits in Souris, Manitoba.

New Brunswick- New Brunswick is mostly a lowland of sedimentary rocks, but granite rocks are exposed in the western areas and the more rugged southern coast.

Newfoundland and Labrador- This province is the easternmost province of Canada and the northernmost extension of the Appalachians. Newfoundland itself is an island, but the province includes over 7000 tiny islands and Labrador, which borders Quebec. Labrador is the eastern tip of the great Canadian shield of metamorphic crystalline rocks which are the source of most of Canada’s rock and mineral wealth. Massive iron deposits are found in the Labrador Trough along with copper, uranium and molybdenum. Iron forms in chert from the Ungava Bay to the Grenville Front, over a span of 700 miles, while copper and nickel minerals such as pyrite, pyrrhotite, sphalerite and galena form dispersed deposits or massive bodies in Kaniapiskau Supergroup rocks. Labrador is also where Labradorite was originally discovered and named after. It is the official mineral of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Northwest Territories- The northeastern part of this large region is an artic prairie of thin soil and almost no trees. Most of the rest of the territories are covered in forests, except for the desolate Artic Islands. The region has some of the oldest rocks in the world. On April 1st, 1999, the Northwest Territories was divided in two to create Canada's third northern territory called Nunavut. The potential of virtually unexplored lands for mineral deposits has local people getting more and more involved in prospecting their respective areas.

Nova Scotia- Nova Scotia is a Peninsula on the Atlantic coast. Like southeastern Quebec and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia extends the Appalachian terrain. Nova Scotia is known for its coal. The Bay of Fundy Island, is a bay between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and is a popular spot for rockhounding for many crystals and minerals including amethyst, fluorite, calcite agate, quartz and fossils. The Bay of Fundy is where Stilbite, the official mineral of Nova Scotia is found. Nova Scotia has also named Agate their official gemstone.

Ontario- Southeastern Ontario is a fertile area of glacial soils bordering the Great Lakes. North and west of Lake Superior is part of the vast Canadian shield of granite and other crystalline rocks containing gold and other industrial minerals. In Ontario mining has occurred for more than 30 different metal and non-metal mineral products, and Ontario is responsible for a major percentage of Canada's nickel, gold, copper and platinum-group metals production. The extraction of metallic minerals is concentrated in Northern Ontario, while the southern portion of the province produces salt, gypsum, lime, nepheline syenite and structural materials (sand, gravel, stone), along with some petroleum. Amethyst, fluorite and pyrite can be found in the Thunder Bay area. The Amethyst Mine Panorama in Thunder Bay, Ontario offers guided tours of their mine and allows visitors to keep what they find. Amethyst is Ontario’s official mineral.

Quebec- Most of Quebec lies within the Canadian shield, a vast area of ancient igneous and metamorphic granites and gneisses, overlain with thin glacial deposits of sedimentary rocks. A part of this region near Lake Abitibi, near the Ontario border, is rich in minerals. The Canadian shield contains iron, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, and uranium reserves.

Saskatchewan- Along with Alberta, Saskatchewan is one of only two land-locked provinces. It consists of mostly forest in the north and prairies in the south. Its economy is primarily associated with agriculture, but mining is a major industry in the province, with Saskatchewan being the world's largest exporter of potash and uranium. Potash is Saskatchewan’s official mineral. Potash refers to potassium compounds and potassium-bearing materials. Oil and natural gas production is also a very important part of Saskatchewan's economy too.

Yukon- Yukon is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. Yukon borders Alaska and the Yukon's major industry is mining (lead, zinc, silver, gold, asbestos, coal, iron and copper). The mineral wealth of Yukon has been well known since the Klondike gold rush from 1897 to 1899 when over 10,000 people from all over the world travelled to the area in search for gold. But the combination of an Arctic climate and remoteness from markets has limited the economic exploitation of such resources and even the development of modern settlement. Lazulite is the official mineral of Yukon.

I am not an expert on Canadian law, but from my research, I believe it is usually acceptable to collect rocks and minerals on Crown or province land for personal use, within reason and with limits (such as only as much as you can carry, no power tools, and only 1 visit per year, etc.). Canada is comprised of 10 provinces and three territories. In Canada, any significant exploration by a prospector will require that prospector to hold the mineral rights to the area of interest. Mineral rights are obtained by “staking” a mineral claim, a “license”, or a “permit” in some jurisdictions. Land can be owned or managed by the Crown, by the province or territory, by Aboriginal groups or privately. All jurisdictions may have different laws or rules and methods of how to apply for permits, and/or if you can "rockhound" or collect rocks and minerals for personal use or pleasure. Before venturing out-do some more research on where and what you can collect. Remember you must always have permission to collect on private property.