Pembroke, ON (August 19, 2011) – One of the earliest identified underdeveloped tourist attractions with an enormous potential for growth in the Ontario’s Highlands region is recreational geology. As a result, the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) decided to develop and enhance hobby mineral-collecting and recreational geology assets in the region as one of their first projects after incorporation in October 2010. This project is currently ongoing, but it has made great gains so far in improving recreational geology in the area.
“Ontario’s Highlands is a region unique in Canada for the mineral diversity that is found here, which is why we are known as the Mineral Capital of Canada,” says Michael Bainbridge, Recreational Geology Project Coordinator for the OHTO. “Improving our recreational geology assets will help make them accessible to visitors to the region, allowing them to experience geology in a way that cannot be found elsewhere.”
Through the Recreational Geology Project, the OHTO has pledged two new showcases to display parts of the historic collection of Dr. Wilson (ca. mid-1800s), currently in storage at the Matheson House Museum in Perth. By calling on experts in mineralogy, geology, and palaeontology the true significance of this important collection will be highlighted and preserved for all to enjoy.
The OHTO has assisted its partners in the Bancroft and Haliburton areas to secure the rights to six public mineral collecting sites. To ensure lasting, and rewarding, access to these destinations, the OHTO has dispatched professional geologists and members of the mineralogical community to begin exploring and making recommendations for future development. The Bear Lake Diggings site is also receiving a facelift – rehabilitating old collector workings and helping to define new areas of interest to ensure that it continues to be a flagship Recreational Geology attraction for years to come.
While hobby mineral collecting is a well established activity in Ontario’s Highlands, the OHTO has identified many locations throughout the area that have possible potential to be added to the roster of public mineral collecting sites, rounding out this part of the regional offering. To that end, the OHTO has been working with the provincial government to help devise a strategy to improve the management of these sites as tourist attractions.
With the support of this project, construction of a hands-on archaeology pit at the Algonquin Way Cultural Centre in Golden Lake is well underway. This interpretive activity will introduce kids of all ages to the principals and practices of archaeology while they ‘dig for buried treasure’. The geological context of the artefacts to be found will also be explored as visitors learn about the materials the region’s first inhabitants used to make tools, refine pigments, and build sacred places.
Similar to the new display at the Museum in Perth, the OHTO is sponsoring two display cases for the Bancroft Mineral Museum to help increase the visibility of their extraordinary collection, and assist them in their fundraising effort as they work to rebuild the historic train station in downtown Bancroft. The OHTO has also initiated a partnership with The Land Between to share information about the impact of our geological past on our present ecology, and pool our technological resources to create dynamic deliverables for our tourism market. Professor Allan Donaldson, of the Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project, has come on board to produce consumer deliverables for both the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park in Almonte, and its sister park, Civitan Court in Perth.
It’s been a busy, exciting time as we work to develop opportunities to engage in Recreational Geology throughout Ontario’s Highlands, but it’s only just begun! Exploration and development continue, with new discoveries being made all the time. The OHTO would not be able to do this project without the community, and they welcome your involvement. If you know of a hidden gem of the Ontario’s Highlands that you would like to share, please contact ac.otho]ta[ygoloeg.
The OHTO is a not-for-profit organization mandated by the Province of Ontario to increase tourism within the counties of Haliburton, Lanark, and Renfrew and portions of Frontenac, Hastings, and Lennox and Addington. The OHTO works in collaboration with eight Destination Marketing Organizations, tourism agencies and authorities including: Algonquin Nation, Bancroft & District Chamber of Commerce, ComfortCountry.ca, Haliburton Highlands, Lanark County Tourism, Land O' Lakes Tourist Association, Ottawa Valley Tourist Association, and the Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association. Find out more about the OHTO at http://www.ohto.ca
For more information, please contact Michael Bainbridge, Recreational Geology Project Coordinator, at ac.otho]ta[ygoloeg