Canada's Gemstone Capital: Mining Amethyst in Thunder Bay

It's Ontario's official gemstone, it's the birthday stone of those born in February and it is here in Thunder Bay. Go Amethyst mining today!

The sky was blue, the leaves were turning red and gold, but we had purple on our minds, so on a sunny fall weekend we headed out to visit some of Thunder Bay’s amethyst mines. The area between Thunder Bay and Nipigon is home to Canada’s most productive amethyst sites and there at least three mines open to the public from mid-May to mid-October, where you can pick your own sparkly purple stones and get a look at the no-frills open pit mining operations. Amethyst has a lot going for it—it’s the birthstone for February, the official gemstone of Ontario and in ancient times it was thought to ward off drunkenness, improve intelligence and lead to beautiful dreams. What’s not to like?

We loaded our picnic cooler into the car (our lunch destination was the spectacular Ouimet Canyon Provincial Parkand drove along the TransCanada Highway, about 58 km east of the city to the tiny community of Pearl. After a left onto Hwy 5 North, we bumped across the railroad tracks and took a hard left when we saw the “pick your own amethyst” signs.


A coin flip decided our visit: Blue Points. (We’ll have to check out Diamond Willow, also on Hwy 5 North, and Amethyst Mine Panorama in Shuniah on another trip. And if you can’t make it to the mines, you can still buy amethyst at a variety of places in Thunder Bay.)

old bill red phantom

Blue Points Amethyst Mine which has been operating since 1963, has been owned by the affable Lyndon Swanson since 2002.

blue points lyndon

Blue Points has free admission and has amethyst for sale on display as well as a pick-your-own site. Lyndon showed us how he scrubs each specimen clean with a toothbrush and vegetable brush, then finishes the job with one of several kinds of acid.

blue points on ground

My five-year-old daughter loves all things purple and shiny (of course) and this time she was intent on finding her own pieces. So, we grabbed a one-gallon bucket (At the time of our visit it was $10 to fill it, $5 if you half-fill it, and $20 for a two-gallon bucket) and walked the short distance up the hill to the pit, which is quite large and ringed with a fence.

blue points pit

Regular visitors aren’t allowed into the mine for safety reasons, but a couple from Wawa with mining safety training was hard at work filling buckets with pieces that had been blasted and pried loose, and they kindly let us take our pick. After much five-year-old deliberation, we filled the gallon bucket.

blue points trail out

The haul: three larger chunks that are now glittering in our garden, and a handful of smaller pieces tumbled in a large wooden bowl on the dining room table. What a cool souvenir of our Sunset Country adventure.

About Bonnie Schiedel

Bonnie Schiedel is the founder of, which covers fun family-friendly attractions, events and restaurants in Thunder Bay. She enjoys canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing and travel, and you can read more of her award-winning work at

Related Articles

New Restrictions on What You Can Bring into Canada

Keep up to dates with the changes.

Renew Your Outdoors Card, Online!

It's never been easier to buy your Ontario fishing license and Outdoors Card

8 facts you didn't know about moose

Just how big is a moose anyway?

Secluded Cottage Rentals

You won't believe what's available at some of these remote lodges!

10 Facts About Lac Seul

How many of these did you know?

Curious as to which fish species are in your favourite lake?

Use this interactive map to find out.

6 sand beaches in Kenora

Cool off at one of these drive-to or boat-to beaches in Sunset Country!

Northwest Ontario Fishing Tournaments

Fish for walleye, bass or even muskie!

Tips for Spring Walleye Fishing

Find out the best places to find walleyes.

Canadian Border Crossing

Planning Your Trip to Canada

Provincial Campgrounds Full?

Book a site at one of these amazing campgrounds!

10 things to do in Dryden

See the famous "Dryden Buck"!

Think You'll Like Fishing in Canada?

Mike Fries has been enjoying fishing Canada for 50 years!

Kakabeka Falls

5 reasons to stop on your next trip

Landscape Photography at its Finest

Learn how to capture our sunsets and more!

Keep calm & float on

Why a houseboat vacation in Ontario should be your next trip.

Give Your Family the Gift of a Resort Vacation in 2023

Visit a Sunset Country lodge for an authentic wilderness experience.

How many fish do you think are in the English River System?

Too many to count! Find out more about this fantastic fishery.

7 Interesting Facts about Sioux Lookout

From airplane skis to Queen Elizabeth, this northern town is full of historic surprises!

New Ontario ATV Laws

Stay safe on your all-terrain vehicle