Mining Heritage | Ontario Highlands Tourism

Mining Heritage

Open House at the Silver Queen Mine.

Although it may not seem like it now, Ontario’s Highlands has a long and storied past as a significant source of mineral wealth. Many know only of the logging industry as an important driver of early European settlement and trade in the region. Some may have heard that the hardships of farming on the Canadian Shield that drove some to abandon their homesteads, led others to plant the seeds of a small-scale, but widespread backyard mining industry. Few, however, know the full extent to which today’s wilderness playground, environmental retreat, and cottage getaway was once the most important mining district in the Country. Hidden beneath a canopy of seeming untouched wilderness lie the remains of some of Canada’s most significant historical producers. Awaiting discovery at the end of a cottage road, an ATV trail, or in someone’s back forty, are the stories of the rise of our Nation’s great mineral resource sector, and how we came of age on the international stage.

Did you know…

  • Rich ore samples, giant crystals, and beautiful gemstones from Ontario’s Highlands have been proudly displayed at World’s Fairs around the globe since 1851.
  • In 1927, two thousand kilograms of beryllium ore was shipped from the Beryl Pit in Quadeville to Germany for the manufacture of armoured plating for tanks leading up to WWII.
  • The first discovery of gold in the Canadian Shield (and first in Ontario) was made here in Eldorado in 1866 – thirty years before the Klondike.
  • The Craigmont Corundum Mine near Combermere was once the world’s largest producer of this important industrial abrasive.
  • Those fabulous terrazzo floors in your local train station, school, or museum were probably made with marble from Madoc – right here in Ontario’s Highlands. Planning a renovation? Shop local!
  • Black Donald Mines – now an underwater ghost town near Calabogie, with only an historic plaque to mark its existence – was once Canada’s largest producer of graphite.
  • Ores from the great mining districts of Cobalt and Sudbury were shipped to Deloro for processing because of special refining techniques that were developed here.
  • Before its closing in 2010, the Canada Talc Mine in Madoc was one of only three mines in the world to have operated continuously for more than 100 years.
  • Marble from the OMYA quarry in Tatlock might be in your driveway, your printer paper, or even the paint in your living room.

Join the Industrial Revolution:

Go underground at the Silver Queen Mine in Perth – Experience life as a miner in a real turn-of-the century mica mine! Murphys Point Provincial Park is home to the Silver Queen Mica Mine (1903~1920). It’s one of only four public underground mine tours in the province, and with fully-restored mine-camp buildings, guided heritage interpretation, special events and more, it’s an experience like no other!
Drive the Miner’s Loop in Marmora – After a hard week in the mines, workers would be known to travel between neighbouring mine sites in search of a Friday night drink, and to catch up on the local gossip. Relive the heyday of mining in Central Hastings as you follow in their footsteps along the Miner’s Loop.
Take a Recreational Geology studio tour - On a 100 mile diet? Try 100 mile decor! Ontario’s Highlands isn’t what it was 100 years ago, and neither are the products of the mining industry. Sulfur, hydrofluoric acid, and arsenic have given way to locally-sourced raw materials for artisans and craftspeople.
Explore industry’s past and present in Tweed – The Ontario Geological Survey office for Southern Ontario is home to a great wealth of information about the mines of Ontario’s Highlands – both historic, and current. Do some research, or find some locally-sourced stone for your kitchen!
Experience Eldorado – Long before the Klondike, Timmins, or Red Lake, the Richardson Mine (in the aptly named Town of Eldorado) was the site of the first discovery of gold in the Canadian Shield. Join the owner of what is now a rustic country estate for a personal tour of the original mine site, browse local mineral samples in the gift shop, or try your hand at gold panning!
Learn the Algonquin Way in Golden Lake – With an extensive collection of First Nations’ artifacts and interpretive activities, you can peer a little deeper into the Highlands’ industrious past. You’ll find industry and trade dating back thousands of years in the carefully selected and gathered stone used for tools and ornamentation.


The Town of Eldorado circa 1877

The Town of Eldorado circa 1877

The story of life in Ontario’s Highlands begins with the earth, and so it has always been. Whether you join a guided tour through a fully-restored mining camp, gain a new appreciation of traditional wisdom and craft, or break off on your own in search of long-forgotten ruins, you’ll leave with a brand new sense of what makes us who we are. Come to know Ontario’s Highlands and you’ll learn just how much more there is to explore through Recreational Geology.

Come to know the story of our Earth

Dig for buried treasure in Canada’s Mineral Capital.
Immerse yourself in the historic waters of the Ottawa Valley.
Experience the Mica Festival and live geoheritage in Lanark.
Or come to know Ontario’s Highlands’ undiscovered country.

Ask our members for more information about Mining Heritage:

Location: 3469 Quadeville Road, Quadeville

A great self-guided nature experience collecting your own gems & minerals. Sign up & pay your fee at Kauffeldts General Store in Quadeville. A second opportunity to see & collect rose quartz is available, by prior arrangement only, by phone or email.

(613) 756-1361
Location: 8 Hastings Heritage Way, Bancroft

Bancroft & District Chamber of Commerce mandate is to promote and develop Bancroft & District as a great place to live, work and visit. The Chamber exists to enrich the quality of the economic and civic well being.

(613) 332-1513
Location: 8 Hastings Heritage Way, Bancroft

The Bancroft Mineral Museum is owned and operated by the Bancroft Gem and Mineral Club. It features exceptional examples of minerals from within a 100km radius of Bancroft. Also featuring educational resources for schools and universities.

(613) 332-1513
Location: 5 McCann crescent, Eldorado

This wonderful 100 acre healing property is home to the Richardson Gold Mine, the Eldorado Copper Mine, the Eldorado Gold and Silver Reduction Company and the Phoenix Gold Mining Company.

(780) 266-7850
Location: 2243 Elm Grove Road, Perth

We work to enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the park. The annual Heritage Mica Festival interprets the Silver Queen Mine and its history. The archaeology program brings history to life for students working with professional archaeologists.

(613) 267-5340
Location: 99 Christie Lake Road, Perth

We are the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario. Our sugar maple trees create the most dramatic fall colours in the world. Bring your camera, meander through historic villages and capture our breathtaking 7 wonders of Lanark County.

(613) 267-4200
Location: 4 Stewart Street, Perth

We offer educational rock-hounding tours of abandoned mines in Lanark County. Our tours depart from Perth and last for as long as our guests wish to remain at the mine site(s). Mineral collecting is encouraged.

(613) 267-8907
Location: 9 Matthew St, Marmora

Obtain information here for various mining heritage points-of-interest such as Marmoraton Mine, Deloro Mine, Miner's Loop. Also, small display of local rocks and minerals.

(613) 472-1515
Location: 11 Gore St. E, Perth

Built in 1840 this beautiful stone dwelling now houses the Perth Museum. The Museum houses a rich collection of local history and is located in downtown Heritage Perth. Open 7 days a week.

(613) 267-1947

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