A couple of weeks ago I got an email from my friend Reiner that he had found “what must be the best glauconite in Ontario”. Glauconite is the mineral that gives green-earth its colour, and the chance to find a good source here in Ontario was very exciting. So, last week, on a gorgeous fall day, I headed down to Lowbanks to see this colour for myself.
I had a beautiful day for rockhounding under a clear, blue sky and warm sunlight on a cool autumn afternoon. The limestone rocks here jut out into Lake Erie and form small coves where I could explore in solitude, amid only the sound of the waves lapping on the sand. I spent 3 hours on the beach—with an 8 pound sledge hammer—breaking up two big limestone rocks and collecting the green mineral inside. In the end, my efforts filled a small bucket. And, while wasn’t a long trip, it felt like a holiday.
The rocks I found were of three types: Fist-sized, massive, blue/green rocks, and thin sheets of really dark green, and some bright green with a crystal-structure (I’m not sure this last sample will produce a good colour, but it was interesting to find nevertheless!). Usually, as a pigment, glauconite is found mixed into soil so I wasn’t really sure if the mineral would produce as good a colour. Yesterday I crushed up a small sample to test it out—the results were spectacular! I have samples of the traditional, prized places that produced green-earth (such as Verona) and the colour from Lowbanks is of at least the same quality.
Over the coming winter I plan to explore the pigment more thoroughly, and add it to the Atlas of Canada’s Local Colours. It’s an exciting find, and definitely a world class pigment worth sharing.
Lowbanks was first settled in the early 1800’s, and was so named because of the height of its banks on Lake Erie (there is, alternatively, a Highbanks in Sherbrooke). While it was once a bustling community—home to two telephone companies—today Lowbanks has a population of only 244 people. But it remains a beautiful spot, and a favourite place to visit for summer recreation.