Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Reading the Rocks: A Visit to Almonte’s Metcalfe Geoheritage Park

Wednesday October 25, 2017

250 Almonte St., Almonte, Ontario

The display specimens at Canada’s first municipal geoheritage park, in Almonte, Ontario, collectively illustrate many of the features that allow geologists to unravel Earth’s remarkable geological history.  “Reading the rocks” with Neil Carleton, on our visit to Almonte’s Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, will take us on a journey far back in time to colliding continents, towering mountains, tropical ocean depths, and a landscape locked in ice.

Reading the rocks

Neil, a geologist, naturalist and well-known retired educator, is one of the founding members of MVFN.

Take home a sample of genuine Canadian Shield schist.  If your camera phone has an app for scanning QR codes, be sure to bring it along.

Time: 10 AM to noon

Location and directions: the entrance to Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, at 250 Almonte Street, is at the bottom of “Bay Hill” below the lower falls in Almonte. From Hwy 29: turn left onto Almonte St. at the lights (if approaching from Pakenham) or right (if approaching from Carleton Place direction) and proceed down the hill (the geoheritage park is on the left on the river side); if coming from downtown Almonte via Mill Street, turn left from Mill Street onto Almonte Street and follow along a short distance downhill to the Almonte Geoheritage Park on the right.

Difficulty: Easy, even ground, cement walkway; less than 0.5 km of walking; bench available on site and picnic tables nearby, but there will be significant standing; wheel chair accessible.

Cost: no cost

Parking: there is free parking on-site and across the road.

Facilities: there is a washroom on-site at the opposite end of the park closer to the hydro station and another reached via a short walk downtown to the Heritage Mall. There are also picnic tables.

Bring: protection from the sun and inclement weather, drinking water, and a camera.

Pre-Registration: pre-registration is required. To pre-register, or for more information, please contact Gretta Bradley at

Neil Carleton will lead the outing

Neil Carleton will lead the outing


at Metcalfe Geoheritage Park. photo P. Donaldson

A few of the rock samples at Metcalfe Geoheritage Park. photo P. Donaldson


Almonte's Metcalfe Geoheritage Park photo P. Donaldson (1280x591)

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Geoheritage Tour with Allan Donaldson

This full day geology tour for MVFN members and friends will be led by Dr. Allan Donaldson. The tour will start at the outdoor display of rock specimens at Almonte’s Metcalfe Geoheritage Park. We will spend the morning there discussing the rocks on display, as well as a suite of additional hand specimens of rocks and fossils representative of local geology.

After lunch (from approx. 11:45 am – 1 pm), the tour will continue with an afternoon drive and visits to outcrops of both Precambrian bedrock and fossil-bearing Paleozoic strata.

Date: Saturday, June 13, 2015

Time: 9:30 am

Location: Meet at the parking lot, Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, Almonte St. (South of Mill St.) in Almonte. In the afternoon we will be going to two other sites, with a return to Almonte at approximately 4:30 pm. Please arrange to car pool to minimize the number of vehicles for travel in the afternoon.

Bring: lunch, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellant, and hiking boots (the afternoon sites are on open but uneven rocky areas free of brush and boggy areas, so wear hiking boots rather than rubber boots). We will be observing rather than collecting, so also consider bringing a hand lens and camera.

You must pre-register for this event:  please contact Gretta Bradley at  or 613-256-4202.  Please remember to give your name and the event/s you are registering for.

NOTE: Our geoheritage tour leader,  Dr.Allan Donaldson (B.Sc. Geol. Eng., Queen’s; Ph.D. Sedimentology, Johns Hopkins), spent 10 years as a Research Scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada investigating Precambrian strata in Canada’s  northern Territories. He then joined Carleton University’s Department of Geology, where he taught for 30 years and during this time he and his graduate students continued research work in the north. Soon after retiring in 1996, Allan founded the Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Initiative, an organization devoted to advancing public appreciation of the underpinnings of the landscape: via talks, field excursions and networking with other nature-based groups. In the past, Allan has led several other geology tours for MVFN.

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Triple S Geotur 2010

Triple S Geotur 2010

The following account of a recent MVFN field trip was written by Cathy Keddy (MVFN Programme Chair) with photos by Cathy Keddy except as indicated. Read full story with 5 photos as pdf 

This was not just another bicycle rodeo, but a fantastic geological outing in Lanark County led by Dr. Allan Donaldson. The tour really began just downstream from the road bridge at Pakenham where we were carried back to Paleozoic times (about 500 million years ago), when the area was beneath a warm, shallow sea.

Cross-sections of sea lily stems, appearing as half-centimeter-diameter washers, were scattered across the exposed, flat riverside rock pavement. Among them were the fossil remains of long, straight, conical shells of nautiloid cephalopods (like squids with shells on their bodies)—orthocones. The one in this photo, however, was just a baby. Some grew to lengths of meters!  >>>>>>>>> Read full story as pdf with link above.

Geotour 2010

Geotour 2010

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MVFN Geotour of Lanark County

A Geotour of Lanark County

Saturday, July 17, 2010 —— 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

 Accompany Dr. Allan Donaldson on a geoheritage tour of our region to learn about stratigraphy, fossils, and the Canadian Shield.

 Meet: at Metcalfe Park, in Almonte at 9:00 a.m. for outing introduction and to carpool. Metcalf Park is at the bottom of the lower falls on the Mississippi River near the new Hydro development site in Almonte,  From Hwy 29, turn toward Almonte at traffic lights (Almonte St.) and park is at the bottom of the hill on your left before you reach Mill St. in Almonte and before crossing over the first bridge.

 Tour itinerary:

1. Drive directly to one of the Cavanagh quarries – Stratigraphy and fossils

2. Parking area, east side of Pakenham Bridge – Fossils and stratigraphy

3. Lunch (at Pakenham or en route to next stop)

4. Smith’s Falls – Building stone and memorial cairn – recognition of rocks, primary and secondary structures, and evaluation of likely source

5. Civitan Court in front of Crystal Palace, Perth – Display of rocks from the Precambrian Shield (a potential geoheritage park, complementary to Metcalfe Geoheritage Park); nearby local building stone; possible visit to Matheson House Museum

6. Return to Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, Almonte, 4:30 p.m.

 Bring: lunch, boots with steel toes (or your most protective footwear if you don’t have such boots) and safety hat (if you have one) for the quarry, sun hat, sunscreen, hand lens, binoculars, camera, your natural history notebook, insect repellant, and lots to drink

For further information please contact Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089

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Geoheritage Information Day

What: Mississippi Mills first Geoheritage Information Day!!

Where: Almonte Geoheritage Park, at Metcalfe Park, beside the Hydro development site in Almonte.

When: Saturday, October 3rd from 1-3 pm.

Find out about the progress being made and join in some fun activities. Bring a favorite rock or fossil and have it examined by an expert! Learn about different types of rocks.

“Take a Tour” (rocks now in place); “The Geologist in You” (use a geological compass to measure planar and linear features in bedrock); “Stromatolite Central” (biogenic structures that are especially abundant in and around Almonte); and the “Geologic Matching Game” (photos of rocky sites within and
near Almonte).

Book prizes to be awarded to three successful participants.

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