Northern Ontario Greens

As I wrote about in my previous post, my family and I spent a couple of weeks exploring northern Ontario last month. While the residency at Pukaskwa National Park was a big part of that experience, we also took the opportunity to undertake a number of local colour pilgrimages along the way.

What surprised me most about the earth colours we found was that they were almost all of the same colour—green! As I’ve noted before, green is a pretty rare colour to find in a place, but although we were on the lookout for a range of colours, again and again we found another shade of green …

Our first stop was one suggested by my friend Reiner, who had written years ago about a mountain of green he found outside Agawa Bay. On that site, tons of copper concentrate had been abandoned from the old mine, and after a century it all weathered, becoming malachite. I was very excited to hike in and collect colour from this spot, but when we arrived we found that new core samples were being drilled and the “mountain” had been flattened in preparation! For a moment I thought all was lost, but as the kids and I explored, we began to see traces of colour along the surface … and when I started to dig, pockets of bright green exploded! There were a wide variety of hues there, and we had fun finding and collecting our colours. Carrying the samples out was a chore, but everyone helped and we got it done.

Looking for local colour in Wawa was a completely different experience. The mine there is a massive pit mine with hundreds of thousands of tons of siderite exposed. Here the wind howled as we moved around the perimeter of the pit. This was a really fun place to dig around and there were surprises, too. While I did bring back a small bucket of siderate (which I think will fire into a nice red …) I also found lots of pyrite, which will grind into green!

Once we were up in Pukaskwa, the landscape changed again. Since I couldn’t get permission to collect inside the park, we left it for a day and headed on to the town of Marathon. Along the way, we stopped and found some beautiful green earth, which we traced back to some interesting dark crystals (which I have yet to identify …). but one of my favourite stops on our trip had less to do with the colour of the place than it did with the sound—when we arrived at Pebble Beach there was large waves crashing into the beach, and the sound of the water dragging the large, perfectly smooth pebbles as the wave retreated was amazing!

So, our “green trip” was full of adventure and interesting finds. I’ll post again once I’ve created some of these rocks and earth into colour.

1 thought on “Northern Ontario Greens”

  1. Moments to treasure, this is something I miss now, doing things with my children.
    So many colors of green so exciting. I have found a few locations of greens and grays just within
    a few kilometers from my place. My apartment now has rows of bottles with ground colors and
    cupboards are filled with rocks I need to crush. Good luck on your pigments searches and discovery Symeon.


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