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An account of collecting at the Quirk Lake locality, near Bancroft

Last Updated: 3rd Feb 2009

By Michael Adamowicz

Exploring the β€œother” similar Bear Lake Diggings on the Musclow-Greenview Road.
An account of collecting at the Quirk Lake locality.

By: Michal Adamowicz, rockhound

Well if any of you have been to the Bear Lake Diggings locality near Tory Hill, you have some idea that to find samples there you would have the best luck digging in the Calcite trenches, & chipping at the Calcite walls looking for Titanite, Apatite, & other minerals. Well Bear Lake Diggings is definitely the most well known locality in the Bancroft region when it comes to large Apatite crystals but there is also another locality which is similar in its structure & potential to Bear Lake Diggings, this is know as the Quirk Lake Locality. First let me tell you how to get there.


From Bancroft head north onto highway 62 North for about 7.6 kilometers until you arrive at the Musclow-Greenview road on the right. Turn right onto Musclow-Greenview road & follow it for about 10.5 kilometers. At this point the locality is right after the Carr Road turn off, Carr road will go to the right. The locality is 200 meters past Carr road. After this road you will see a straight stretch of Musclow-Greenview road, the location is on the right in an area just before the tree line, its will be a shrubby area & you should see trenches dug into the rock. Here is where you collect. You can park on both sides of the shoulder as long as you leave enough room for traffic. See, easy enough directions, right? Just one more thing, on your way to the Quirk Lake occurrence you will pass two other roadcuts that have good potential for collecting. One is on the left 2.2 kilometers from highway 62 on Musclow-Greenview road, & another is on both sides of the road 5.7 kilometers from highway 62. Now some images of Quirk Lake..

Here is the locality on the right before the treeline. The view is looking north.
At 100% width

Here is the locality on the left, Carr road is in the distance at the curve.
At 100% width

Here is a pit dug int a calcite vein in the treeline.
At 100% width

Here is part of a trench. It is about 1.5 feet deep.
At 100% width

This is the view you get from the tree line looking toward the road.
At 100% width

Dug up Trench.
At 100% width

Site Geology:

Essentially the location is made up of several Calcite veins, heading in an eastern direction. These veins cut across granite & syenitic gneisses. This is mildly similar to the Bear Lake locality which is made up of Calcite filled vein dikes that cut across hornblende-syenite gneiss. They two locations look similar once you compare them.


Here is a short list of minerals that can be found here at Quirk Lake.

Feldspar Group
Marialite-Meionite Series
Pyroxene Group
var: Amethyst


Essentially collecting methods are the same as Bear Lake, chipping into the rock walls, diggings up the Calcite veins, & scavenging. For me the most successful method of collecting here was actually the rock wall. Here you can chip out druzy Quartz which is usually attached to Calcite. Sometimes the Calcite & Quartz masses are interconnected in a very interesting manner making for unique specimens. The walls are tough, but due to a significant lack of moss, cracks & crystals are easy to see & remove, as long as there are not attached to the rock wall of course.
You can also collect here by digging up the Calcite trenches to look for Apatite crystals & pyroxene masses. Most Calcite veins that you can dig up are located in the woods so that is where you must look to find exposed pits and explore them further. A word of caution, there are Horseflies near the road & Mosquitoes in the woods, just though you should know.
Collecting here is for sure easier then Bear Lake for a number of reasons. The distance from town & closeness to the road making this the main reason i like this location when compared to Bear Lake. Second is that there is no fee for collecting here. There is the uniqueness of minerals here, such as quartz, hematite, & strange crystal masses of multiple minerals found here. As for samples size, you can find nice thumbnail samples & large cabinet samples with easy. There are limited samples in the trenches near the road but there are more beyond the tree line in the pits that people have dug up to follow the Calcite trenches.
This site also has the added benefit to be on the way toward the Macdonald Mine & area, the Graphite road cut, & is also on the way toward the Burgess & Craigmont mine if you taken an alternative route.

Now you have some idea what samples can be found here & how to collects, here are some sample images:

Quartz encrusted with Hematite on Calcite. (15.3 x 11.4 x 6.8cm)
At 100% width

Pyroxene. (5.2 x 3.4 x 2.1 cm)
At 100% width

Pyroxene with red Apatite. (9.5 x 3.8 x 3.7cm)
At 100% width

Hematite encrusting Quartz on Calcite. (4.1 x 2.9 x 2.3cm)
At 100% width

Another Hematite encrusting Quartz on Calcite. (5.4x 4.8 x 2.2cm)
At 100% width

A closeup to some druzy Quartz with Hematite. (2 x 1.5 x 1.7cm)
At 100% width

Hematite. (8.2 x 6.3 x 4.7cm)
At 100% width

Smoky quartz, hematite spheres & green Fluorite octahedral. (6.3 x 3.1 x 2.9 cm)
At 100% width
At 100% width

Feldspar. (6.3 x 4.1 cm)
At 100% width

Here is an overview of this location.


1.) Close to Bancroft, & close to road. This makes it easier to move large samples to car easily increasing the
number of samples you could be willing to take.
2.) Located near other sites: Macdonald Mine, & Graphite road cut. Also on the way to other sites, such as Burgess
Mine & Craigmont Mine.
3.) Samples range from thumbnail to cabinet size.
4.) No fee for collecting.
5.) Easy to locate, hard to miss.
6.) Unique mineral shapes present.


1.) Insects, can be bad if after & before rains.
2.) The Calcite veins in the woods are generally mildly muddy & digging is required.

As you can see I have very few disadvantages to this site. This is a great site for collectors of all ages & skill levels. Since its close to town, you can collects here at any time, you do not have to make a large separate trip to get to it as you would have to do if you were collecting at Bear Lake Diggings or Beryl Pit for example. I recommend this site since it has so much potential and ease of access. Thanks for reading.

Rockhound safe & with determination.

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