In Manitoba, Canada, Lake Winnipeg is a relatively shallow glacial lake. It is a great place to find interesting granite, limestone, feldspar, mica, and granites.
The lake is a great place to visit with a family as there are many staircases and playgrounds that lead down to the sandy beaches.
Much of the rock is solid and the more interesting stones can be found by careful breaking. Visiting the Whiteshell area, about 2 hours south of Lake Winnipeg has a few abandoned quarry sites where the broken rocks can be investigated.
Types of Rocks at Lake Winnipeg
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The Souris Agate pits are home to many precious stones like jasper, agate, and petrified wood. These can be unearthed on guided tours of the pits.
It has many rockhounding visitors each year and it is a great destination.
The Agate in Souris Agate pits are glassy in appearance and have banding of multiple colors. Agate has been used decoratively and in jewelry as early as ancient Greece.
The Souris Agate pits in Manitoba are privately owned, but tours can be scheduled by calling 204-483-2561.
There is a rock shop at the Souris Agate pit location where you can find raw and polished agates for sale. Consider supporting “The Rock Shop” on your visit.
The large cliffs and bolder formations around Lake Winnipeg are limestone that has been eroded by water and wind over time.
The limestone here was formed on the bed of an ocean that was once covered in warm salt water.
The animals that live in the ocean have very calcium rich skeletons and shells. As these animals die their shells and skeletons are broken down and cemented together into a fine grained stone.
Because of the way it is formed limestone often contains fossils.
There have been many fossils found in the area.
The islands in Lake Winnipeg are made of granite.
Granite is a coarse grained intrusive rock that solidifies under the surface when magma is pushed close to the surface.
Granite can form in a wide range of colors like black, green, pink, white and browns.
It is composed mostly of quartz and feldspar.
Quartz is a very abundant mineral around Lake Winnipeg. The quartz found here are white to gray.
Quartz found here is often called smoky quartz because of the smoky color in the semi transparent stone.
Quartz at Lake Winnipeg is embedded in the granite, so most examples are found as the rocks weather over time exposing clusters of quartz crystals.
Feldspar is a major component in granite and bands of the white mineral can be found in bands in the granite.
Feldspar is a common component of magma and it can be found in decorative marble as the white flecks.
Feltsbar can be seen in wide white bands in the gray granite around Lake Winnipeg and in surrounding Manitoba.
Mica is a silica mineral that forms in layers of thin elastic sheets. Mica usually appears dark gray, but when the individual sheets are split they have a pearly luster.
Mica has shades of brown, green and yellows when spilt.
Mica is used in industrial applications like the manufacture of drywall and used as natural glitter and adding shine to cosmetics.
Garnets are usually bright red flecks embedded in the volcanic rocks.
Garnets are semi precious stones that are usually red in color. They can be found in every color, but the only ones I have seen in this area are the most common red color.
Garnets can be found by careful rock breaking and embedded in the hard volcanic rock that forms the basin of Lake Winnipeg.
Look through the broken rocks that can be found along the shoreline of the lake or in the area around the lake.
Garnets are used in jewelry and as decorative stones, and it is the birthstone for January.
Garnets are often visible in cut and quarried archeological stone in older structures. Look closely at cabins and chimneys in the area and you may see the shiny red garnets that are plentiful.
Beryl around Lake Winnipeg is green to yellow beryllium aluminum silicate. This stone can form emerald and aquamarine.
Beryl, like many of the other stones at Lake Winnipeg can be found embedded in granite.
When hunting for beryls look for white, yellow or green crystals on the broken pieces of granite in older quarry sites or areas with collections of broken stones.
This is a difficult stone to find, but there have been some beautiful samples found around the lake and in Manitoba.
The Tanco Mine, located close to the southern end of the lake has uncovered many large samples of beryl.
Mining around this area is a large industry and has been for many years. The areas where mining has stopped can be good places to look for beryl.
Be careful to obey all posted signage and only collect where safe and legal. Abandoned mines can be incredibly dangerous.
Carry With You
If you are planning a hike where there will be rocks to pick through, consider packing one of the following:
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals (small book with pretty colored pictures to help identification)
- National Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Fossils (small book with pictures)
- Gemstone & Crystals Properties (durable fold-up guide)
- Small UV Flashlight
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Rock Collecting at Lake Winnipeg
When visiting Lake Winnipeg notice the broken stones and explore for examples of feldspar, granites, quartz and garnets.
The stones in Lake Winnipeg are largely garnet and limestone and many of the stones are embedded deep in the rocks.
The best way to find the more interesting stones is to visit some of the abandoned quarry sites around Manitoba.
The Rock Shop, which is a little less than two hours from the lake, is a great place to learn more about the local geology and to uncover the more precious stones in the area. It is available for tours, but they must be booked in advance.
There have been conservation efforts at Lake Winnipeg, but the area has not been classified as a nature reserve or national park, but it is important to respect any posted signage and local laws about collecting and removing rocks.
Turtle Island in Lake Winnipeg is part of a reserve by the Sagkeeng First Nations and the Anishinaabe people have lived in the area for hundreds of years. Consider supporting local craftsman when in the area.
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