The Club History

Dick Britton and Ernest Windisch met while visiting the rock & mineral display at the Redpath Museum at McGill in 1957. They compared their mutual interest in mineral collecting, considered the possibility of forming a club and consulted Dr. Louise Stevenson, then curator of the museum.

By writing to the magazine “Rock and Minerals” they obtained the names of four other subscribers in Montreal. Dick Britton called each one on the phone, suggesting the forming of a club. He arranged an exploratory meeting with Ernest Windish, George Brooks, Sam Ronson, Hans Gehrig and Bob Hiller. With Dick Britton they were the organizers and Charter Members of the Montreal Gem & Mineral Club (reprinted from the Geminews of 1 October 1962).

The Club was born on February 14th 1957 at the home of Dick Britton. The name Montreal Gem and Mineral Club was chosen at the 2nd meeting on February 28th, at the home of Bob Hiller, with members Dick Britton, Hans Gehrig, Sam Ronson, George Rybnicek and Ernest Windisch present.

They met periodically at their homes, drew up the by-laws, designed the club’s crest. This crest represents the basic shape of a tourmaline crystal and shows a faceted stone, the rock hammer and a quartz crystal group indicative of the elements of our hobby.

By early 1958 the club had 25 active members, and the first Club Bulletin was issued in July 1958. The first exhibition also took place in that year.

Regular auctions were held to raise money for the club with members donating the minerals. Much later when the club was financially in better shape because of the annual show, these auctions were more held to exchange minerals, cutting materials and tools with only a small percentage going into the club. These auctions ended in the 90s.

In 1960 club members met twice a month to hear speakers mostly on the subject of minerals, initially at the Westmount Victoria Hall, then at the Westmount YMCA. In 1965 monthly meetings were held at the McGill Redpath Museum. The club was very active doing fieldtrips.

In 1984 Bill Verwoerdt started a new workshop / clubhouse, with Dan Ungerson as the lapidary instructor. A jewellery making section was added. Bill introduced the social aspect with two “President’s Wine & Cheese” parties to bring members together socially.


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