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Planning trip to Thunder Bay

Posted by Michael Adamowicz  
Michael Adamowicz December 08, 2011 11:35PM
Hail all.

I am looking into a trip to Thunder Bay next year for my vacation. My plan is to spend a day in Sudbury, a day in Saul St. Marie, Wawa, & then finally the rest of the time in Thunder Bay. The trip probably would need to be two weeks because of the distance.

My main objective is to visit a few of the Amethyst mines in Thunder Bay. Look for Gold, Copper, & Silver in Sault St. Marie & Wawa, & spend some time in Sudbury since its on the way.

I am looking into what sites to visit along the way to Thunder Bay & when there. Amethyst, Gold, Silver, Copper are the highlights of my trip but if there are any other sites along the way that are accessible to collectors i would be interested in going there too. I am pretty much going to be going to Thunder bay via highway 69 & then 17.

Are there any sites anyone out there could recommend that i could visit that are accessible to collectors along the way?.

Good roadcuts?

Anyone knows what Amethyst mines in Thunder Bay are best to visit?

Any old copper & silver mines accessible to collectors in Sault St. Marie? What about gold mines in Wawa?

Any input would be welcome.

Phil M. Belley December 09, 2011 12:52AM
Probably cleaned out, but you never know:
Dan R. Lynch December 09, 2011 09:25AM
A family friend runs the Blue Points Amethyst Mine in Pearl, Ontario, just northeast of Thunder Bay. He's a very helpful and fair man whose prices for both fee digging and specimens are much more reasonable than the competition. If you're going to be there during the snow-free months, definitely look it up.
Michael Adamowicz December 09, 2011 04:29PM
Thanks for the info guys. Both sites definitely i would visit. I have heard good things about the Blue Point mine. Its on my list. I did hear that there are some changes going on that might restrict access to collectors there though.
Tim Jokela Jr December 11, 2011 03:10PM
We've always run more or less straight up to T-Bay, thru Michigan, as it's quicker, assuming you have a passport and don't mind possible border kerfuffles.

The object usually being to get there, we don't really stop for any serious collecting, though pasties in Michigan, fudge at the Macinac, and a bit of walking along the north shore of Superior beaches are mandatory. Sabina has lots of info, but the collecting in my experience has been pretty meh, the goal is the amethyst.

Assuming you're taking it easy, it's a two day drive, and we usually veg out for a day or two after being cooped up in the car, so taking two weeks is a good idea. I'd say that you only need to bother with the Blue Point mine for serious collecting, but visit the others to see what's on offer. Take a hardhat, safety boots, and all the heavy tools that you'd take to say, Herkimer, as it's serious bidness tearing rock out of the Canadian Shield.

You'll probably run into a couple of characters at the Blue Point, Paul and Thelma Smitham. They've just opened their own claims next door, ask them what's new, they're awesome folks. To find good amethyst takes serious work, so bring serious tools. Other possibilities in the area include the incredibly ancient fossil stromatolites, and the old silver mines if you have a metal detector. Good grub can be had at the truck stop on the Trans-Canada btw the mine and town; check out the Hoito if you want to see a Finnish restaurant that's been around for about 70 years.

I hope to get up there myself next summer, it's awesome fun and great collecting.


Lloyd Van Duzen December 19, 2011 05:27AM
Hi Michael,
Not sure if you know of this ogs doc, since you will be in the area of Thunderbay looking for some amethyst.
This may be helpful.

Should be able to download it from,

Search "amethyst" -> gb05 ->Download "save target as"

Geological Guidebook No.5
Amethyst Deposits of Ontario 1976, by M.A. Vos

Best of luck on your trip and looking forward to your updates and new articles.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/22/2011 05:47AM by Lloyd Van Duzen.
Bill Baker Barr December 21, 2011 10:06PM
I love the Thunder Bay area - went there 5 times from Michigan, miss it now in New Mexico! My wife and I visited the original Diamond Willow on our honeymoon in 1986, when old Gunnar Noyes was still operating it, I believe. On later trips, we found the property had changed hands and names, becoming the Blue Points, and Doug Noyes opened the new Diamond Willow next to it. I would highly recommend both.

If it's still open, I'd also check out the Ontario Gem Mine - I found more accessory minerals there (galena, sphalerite, baryte, calcite, etc.) and bought a couple pieces of lovely fluorite on amethyst. The Amethyst Mine Panorama was pretty touristy, but I did stumble across a hand-sized crystal point with semi-facet grade deep-colored amethyst; dinged tip, alas!

On our last visit in 2004, we went to the DanBill Mine, farther west than the others. As I recall, you go north on 527 off 11/17 just entering the east end of Thunder Bay. It's on a twisty logging road going east off 527 a few miles up. Not easy to locate, but we had great fun finding big specimens out amongst the trees and pools of water. Here's some contact info: Bill Richardson/Dan Arsenault, Pass Lake, ON P0T 2M0, Tel.: (807) 628-6854; (807) 629-4074.

The old silver Mines near Stanley, west of TB, could be fun. Send me a PM for more info if you'd like.

Scott Sadlocha December 22, 2011 03:35AM
Thanks for the info in this post. I would love to get up to that area in the near future, and information like this is helpful. I could probably make it in one day with a short stop, but would probably enjoy the ride more with an overnight somewhere. If I ever get up there, I would drive up through Michigan and take the north shore of Superior. Some of the possible places to stay overnight are obvious, such as the Mackinaw City/St. Ignace area and the Sault area, but I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations on some of the towns along the north shore, perhaps something a bit more quiet and quaint, with a bit of charm.
Dermot Walsh December 25, 2011 12:20AM
Hi Michael..a friend and i visted Mr Noyes property in the mid 70`s..if memory serves we found some hematite coated amethyst(?)..we also visited a place on Loon Lake Lake would be interesting too hear of your trip..
Michael Adamowicz January 04, 2012 03:25AM
That you all for your info, really appreciate it. Will definitely keep it all in mind.

Probably if i were to hit Thunder Bay i probably woudl go to the Blue Point, & Diamond Willow Mines. If it were still open, the Ontario Gem Mines definitely a worthy stop. Probably woudl skip Amethyst Mine Panorama cuz ime not a big fan of such sites. I want to do my own entire collecting.

Also Silver Islet is not far from Thunder Bay, anyone know if there is any way to get permission to go on the island?

Reiner Mielke January 08, 2012 01:02AM
No way to get permission that I know of. I tried to find out who has the mining rights to it with no luck, not even the Ministry of Natural Resources seems to know. Not likely anyone is going to stop you from going there though or even bother to kick you off as no one lives on the island and there are no buildings on it. The harbor on the mainland is government property, you just have to pay a small fee to launch a boat from it. You have to keep a close eye on the weather because the island is exposed and the waves get real big real fast. Avoid the early summer because half the island is covered in sea gull nests and shit and they get real upset with people.
Raymond Hietapakka February 28, 2012 01:50AM
...Our silver mine is proving to be tons of fun...
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