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Imagine being the first person to see a natural landscape, unaltered by a human presence. Now picture this landscape filled with rocks and minerals that have been found in perhaps only three other places in the world.

Welcome to Greenmantle Farm, on the Essonville Line in Wilberforce, Ontario, an extremely unique and special place in the world.

Rocks and Minerals
Debra at Greenmantle Farms (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Dating back 1.1 billion years, our team learned from Mark Braham, Owner and Guide, about how this occurrence of minerals came to be.

“The Most Exciting Thing is to learn about the creation of the earth, the universe, and how everything fits together.”

A billion years ago is a hard concept, Mark explained, because our lifespan is so tiny compared to these geological events. It really feels like no change is happening at all. There used to be mountains in Haliburton, but the glaciers of multiple ice ages wore them down. Imagine a glacier riding over the landscape like they’re bulldozers, digging into the ground and creating valleys in-between lasting hills where the rock remained whole. Rock was here, it cracked, and glaciers took advantage of it.

Rocks and Minerals
Mark with Haliburton County map (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Underneath the mountains, came molten magma, growing upwards, melting limestone, which formed calcite, the most important mineral at Greenmantle farms. Without calcite, there is no growth of minerals – Mineral crystals live in calcite.

After an introductory geology lesson, Mark showed us some of the Mineral crystals onsite:

Fluorrichterite

Most notably, the mineral fluorrichterite was discovered in Wilberforce, and is only found in this area of all of Canada. It is a rare mineral of a brownish colour, formed into well-shaped crystals with a pearly luster from the unusual presence of the element fluorine.

Fluorrichterite Ontario
Fluorrichterite (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Fluorrichterite Ontario
Fluorrichterite (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Fluorrichterite
Fluorrichterite (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Quartz Crystals

Mark also showed us the quartz crystal formations, one of the most common and abundant crystals in the world. These circular minerals are ash white, and surprisingly felt soft and smooth, while appearing to the eye as rough and jagged.

Quartz Crystals Ontario
Quartz Crystals (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Quartz Crystals Ontario
Quartz Crystals (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Quartz Crystals Ontario
Quartz Crystals (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Orthoclase Crystals

The largest formation we saw was the orthoclase crystals, from the potassium feldspar family. These crystals appeared blocky white, lining the walls of narrow structures of calcite and honeblende, each forming a sharp and well-defined boundary.

Orthoclase Crystals Ontario
Orthoclase Crystals (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Orthoclase Crystals Ontario
Orthoclase Crystals (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Why is GreenMantle Farms Worth a Visit?

Our human survival is based on protection of our land and natural resources. But often, what do we do to our natural resources? According to Mark, we “destroy because of greed.” This is why Mark has opened up his private land to visitors, to educate visitors on why minerals need to be protected in Ontario and worldwide. If you decide to visit, you’ll  experience a hands-on tour that will tickle your senses of sight, touch, smell and sound, showing you how special crystal minerals are, grown in Ontario’s own backyard. Crystals you may see include apatite, hornblende, tremolite, actinolite, orthoclase and quartz.

“You will never see what you will see here anywhere else in your life.”

Rocks and Minerals
Mark looking for hidden rocks and minerals (Photo: Lindo Photography)

 

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Debra Weinryb
As Editor-in-Chief of Ecotour Magazine, Debra is excited to bring her over 7 years of experience in communications, content creation, and journalism, to help share Canadian Ecotourism stories with you. Debra has a Degree in Environment from the University of Toronto, a Graduate Certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College, and most recently studied Travel Writing at George Brown College. She was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.