Transcript: People of Ontario - Amethyst Mines, Thunder Bay | May 04, 1990

(music plays)

A series of clips shows close ups to gemstones. Next, at a working camp in the middle of the forest, something explodes.
[explosion]

A group of men break and lift heavy rocks.
[hammering]

The caption reads “People of Ontario.” Then it changes to “Pearl Lake Amethyst Mines. 29 kilometers east of Thunder Bay.”

Philippe Durocher appears on screen. He’s in his forties. He has short dark hair and a prominent full beard. He wears sunglasses, an off white thick sweater and blue jeans.

Philippe says
THERE'S ALL THE VALUE
RUNNING RIGHT IN THROUGH HERE.
WELL BASICALLY WE STARTED
OUT AS GEM CUTTERS
ABOUT 21 YEARS AGO
AND REALIZED VERY QUICKLY
WE HAD TO GET A SOLID SOURCE
AND HAVE CONTROL OF OUR
OWN SOURCE FOR PRICES.
SO WE WENT OUT AND
STAKED OUR OWN MINE.
WE SPENT SEVERAL YEARS
TRAPPING THE BUSH,
FINDING A LIKELY SPOT,
FOUND THIS LOCATION DOWN HERE,
AND JUST WENT AT IT
WITH HEART AND SOUL.
LUCKILY, WE'VE HAD SOME BREAKS
AND FOUND SOME GOOD ROCK.

As he speaks, a clip shows him at work taking small pieces of a pile of rocks and throwing them away.

Philippe continues
PHYSICALLY, IT'S ALWAYS HARD.
THERE'S NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT.
YOU'RE WORKING OUTSIDE
IN THE WEATHER.
IT'S LABOUR INTENSIVE
BECAUSE THE VALUE OF THE GEM IS
GETTING IT OUT
WITHOUT DAMAGING IT.
USING DYNAMITE AND TRACTORS
AND WHATNOT, YOU CAN DO
TO A LIMITED AMOUNT, BUT
WHEN IT COMES RIGHT DOWN TO IT
YOU HAVE TO DO IT BY HAND.
ONCE IT COMES FROM HERE IT
GOES IN DIFFERENT STAGES.
I GUESS THE LOWEST,
THE CHEAPEST FORM
WE USE AS BUILDING
STONE TO FACE HOUSES.

A new clip shows objects made of precious stones such as clocks and jewelry. Next, Philippe shows the raw, uncut, version of a stone followed by jewelry all finished at a store.

Philippe continues
THE LARGEST QUANTITY
WE USE IS FOR MAKING
PEN SETS, CLOCKS, SOUVENIR
ITEMS FROM THE ACTUAL AMETHYST.
SO IT'S A WIDE VARIETY OF IT.
THESE LARGER CRYSTALS
HERE, THESE LARGER ONES,
THESE WILL BE CUT INTO GEM
STONES FOR RINGS AND PENDANTS
'CAUSE THEY'RE THE SOLID
CHOICE PIECES OF AMETHYST.
THIS IS THE CROWNING
GLORY OF THE AMETHYST
MINING IN THE SENSE IS
TO GET CRYSTALS THIS LARGE
AND THIS PURE WITHOUT
ANY ROCK, ANY GRANITE OR
ANY OTHER INTRUSIVE
ROCK ON IT.
THIS POCKET HERE THAT
WE'RE WORKING, WE'VE BEEN
SORT OF DREAMING ABOUT
FINDING THIS FOR TEN YEARS.
WE'VE SORT OF HIT THE
MOTHER LODE RIGHT HERE
IN THIS ONE POCKETNOW.
WE'VE REMOVED UP TO DATE
ABOUT FIVE TONS OF GEM MATERIAL
IN A WEEK'S TIME.
AND THIS IS JUST THE
BEGINNING, SO WHERE IT ENDS...
I HOPE IT DOESN'T END
FAIRLY SOON, BUT IT'S ONE
OF THE LARGEST FINDS THAT
WE'VE EVER COME ACROSS
IN ALL THE YEARS THAT
WE'VE BEEN MINING.
IN ONE SPOT SO DEEP.
THE HOLE ITSELF IS
ABOUT 15 FEET DEEP
AND ABOUT 40 FEET LONG
RIGHT NOW AND THERE'S NO SIGN
OF IT ENDING.

A new clip shows Philippe and a colleague performing a new excavation.

Philippe says
AT THE END OF THIS BLOB OF
CLAY WILL BE A BIG CRYSTAL
SPECIMEN, AND THAT'S WHAT
WE'RE AFTER AS MUCH AS
THE BIGGER PIECES.

The Colleague says
OH, HERE'S ONE RIGHT...
OH, GOD, YES.
SEE, IT'S GOING
RIGHT UNDER THERE.

Philippe says
IT'S WAY BACK IN THERE.
IT'S A WORTHWHILE BUSINESS.
LIKE I SAY, WE LOOK AT IT
AS MAKING A LIVING OFF OF IT.
AND I DON'T THINK WE'LL
EVER BECOME MILLIONAIRES
BY ANY MEANS BUT, YEAH,
IT'S PAID THE BILLS FOR
AT LEAST FIVE DIFFERENT
FAMILIES THAT IT'S
MAINTAINED OVER
THE LAST 20 YEARS.
IN THE SUMMERTIME, OBVIOUSLY,
I'M HERE 7 DAYS A WEEK
FROM APRIL 'TIL OCTOBER.
I'VE LEARNED NOW TO TAKE
THE ODD DAY OFF AND WHATNOT.

Next, Philippe and his fellow colleague wash their foundings down the river.

Philippe concludes
BUT PRETTY WELL FOR
THOSE PERIODS OF MONTHS
WE'RE HERE ALL THE TIME.
THE KIDS ARE OLDER SO
THEY CAN COME OUT AND --
WE'RE ACTUALLY NOW
THE THIRD GENERATION
WITH MY MOM, MYSELF,
AND NOW MY CHILDREN
WORKING HERE.
THEY'VE CAUGHT THE BUG.
THEY TAKE EVERY CHANCE THEY
CAN GET TO COME OUT HERE,
AND THEY'RE REALLY
ENJOYING IT.
SO IT'S PLAY FOR THEM
NOW, BUT IT'LL BE WORK
DOWN THE ROAD.

(music plays)

The end credits roll.

Editor, Jim Crewe.

Producer and director, Inge Johnson.

A production of TV Ontario.

Copyright. The Ontario Authority. 1990.

Watch: People of Ontario - Amethyst Mines, Thunder Bay