For this trip to collect pigment, I was very fortunate to have the help of a fellow member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Gem and Mineral Club, Reiner. After a couple of conversations on the topic of rocks and pigments, Reiner expressed an interest in coming along on my next hunt and so we agreed to a date and headed out.
After doing some research and visiting the University of Waterloo’s Map Library, where I was greatly helped by a lady named Kanyadzo, I had an idea of where to look for some rocks reported to have been used by the paint company of James Newton (+1899) from 1872-1893. An old road seemed to dead end on the map exactly where I thought the pigment had been collected almost a century ago. After following some railway tracks over a river and then heading into the bush we began our search. After hiking for about 20 minutes Reiner took out his hammer and cracked one of the rocks that we were beginning to see a lot of; Sandstone! With his knowledge, Reiner was able to say that there was little chance of finding any pigments on this site (thank goodness he was along; I would have spent the whole afternoon looking for something else at this location!)
Thanks to a geological map that I had brought along we decided to head further north to look in on a marked mining site. As we drove along we talked about many things but we abruptly stopped when we saw the entrance to the mine; it was so red! The only person present was more than happy to let us look around. The rocks were a ferruginous clay and, as Reiner remarked, you felt like superman because when you held them in your hand you could easily crush them into little bits. I collected three distinct colours: An Indian Red, a green that was almost a Robin-Egg Blue and a Raw Sienna. Of course I need to refine them and test them but it was a very good location for collecting. The only drawback was the heat: With the sun baking the rocks on both sides of the valley we called that spot, “the Oven”.
With our trip being a success, we took a little time and checked out the different sights. I think the most memorable was the Ontario Bad Lands. I really haven’t seen anything like it in in Ontario before; if you haven’t visited it, I think it is well worth the drive.
This was a very fun and successful trip; thanks again to Reiner for his help. I know that he has some other locations he hopes to visit in the future so perhaps I can convince him to report on his findings when he gets back …