After opening the Parrsboro Rock and Mineral Shop in 1948, Eldon visited many gem and mineral shows in Northeastern and Southwestern United States. He would purchase specimens to sell in his rock shop, but also sell processed agate or other minerals. During his travels he met many people at the gem shows and built strong friendships. In some cases he returned to the same show 4-5 times. Through these interactions with the gem and mineral show community Eldon promoted awareness and interest in Nova Scotia’s mineral sites and geotourism.
Bancroft Gemboree 1964-65
One of the first international gem shows Eldon attended was in Bancroft, Ontario. The Bancroft Gemboree was started in 1964. In 1961 Carl Bosiak purchased the Princess Sodalite Mine near Bancroft to mine and sell sodalite to the gem and mineral show market (1, 2). The Gemboree was developed in Bancroft to promote the mineral richness of the area, which is now recognized as “the mineral capital of Canada”. The Gemboree remains a major tourist attraction promoted by the Ontario Highlands area.
Eldon likely visited the Bancroft Gemboree in August 1965. He was impressed by the excitement and quality of minerals. He recognized the potential for a gem and mineral show to attract attention and visitors to the Parrsboro area. Eldon phoned Carl for advice on setting up a show in Nova Scotia. Carl thought the third weekend of August would be a good time to hold the Nova Scotia event. Eldon worked with Marilyn Smith and Kirwin Davidson to launch the first Parrsboro Rockhound Roundup in August 1966. Elaine helped to send out invitations to the first Rockhound Roundup, and many dealers from the Bancroft Show attended the first Parrsboro Event.
Eldon phoned Carl for advice on setting up a show in Nova Scotia. Carl thought the third weekend of August would be a good time to hold the Nova Scotia event.
The Parrsboro event is now called the Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show and has been held on the third weekend of August since it started in 1966. It remains one of the largest festivals in the region, attracting more than 3000 people during the weekend events.
By examining the map of sites Eldon visited, you can see the routes that he and Elaine would take on their road trips south. They made several trips to the gem and mineral shows in Maine. The Bangor Gem and Mineral Show and Waterville Gem Show were relatively close to Nova Scotia. Eldon’s presence at these shows further increased regional interest in Nova Scotia’s minerals and coastal geology sites.
Arizona and Mexico
The largest gem and mineral show in North America is held in Tuscon, Arizona. Eldon has attended that show several times. He has also attended the Quartzite Gem Show and Bisbee Gem Shows, buying material for his rock shop and selling Nova Scotia minerals.
A Geology Ambassador
During his many trips to the United States Eldon built relationships with mineral dealers and collectors. His enthusiasm and displays increased awareness of Nova Scotia’s mineral and coastal geology that were already well known among the gem and mineral community. By promoting the region’s mineral resources, Eldon encouraged geotourism to Nova Scotia. In 1988, Eldon was recognized as a National Tourism Ambassador by the Government of Canada, and he has also received the Nova Scotia Tourism Ambassador Award several times.
Through his work in organizing and promoting the Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show (Rockhound Roundup) Eldon established an event that continues to attract visitors from across North America. In 2015, Eldon opened the 50th Annual Gem and Mineral Show while flanked by local government representatives. Eldon’s travels and participation in gem and mineral shows across North America have had a lasting impact that continues to draw attention to Nova Scotia mineral and geological resources.
1 – Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, November 10, 1962, pg. 17.
2 – “North of 7… and Proud of it”, 2003, pg 34.