WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Each year we ask a graduate to write an article on his/her past and current activities since leaving Acadia. This year we invited Martin Ethier, who studied at Acadia from 1999-2001.
Sandra Barr recently asked me to submit a brief autobiographical outline of myself, highlighting the career path that I have experienced in the larger field of geology. Presently, I am a self-employed professional residing in the City of Temiskaming Shores, Ontario. The question that most of my friends and family ask me on a regular basis: What exactly do you do? Great question, but I do know that I love what I am doing, and would not want to do anything much different. I have done a full circle, somewhat different than most people do these days, meaning that I returned to where I grew up, to work and contribute back to my region.
I was born and raised by a Franco-Ontarian family in the community of North Cobalt on the shores of Lake Temiskaming in northeastern Ontario. We 'lived' geology there. As a kid we would play in and around the silver mines of Cobalt, exploring the numerous open and abandoned shafts, drifts, and stopes. Not very smart in hindsight; while nobody got hurt, we sure received plenty of self-taught education. I am sure that is where I got the geology bug.
In high school, I went away to play junior hockey in pursuit of the NHL dream, but more realistically the University dream. I ended up in the Maritimes and graduated from Mount Allison University majoring in Geography, with minors in Geology as well as Environmental Studies. My goal was to graduate in geology, but the university made a decision to phase out the Geology program during that low cycle of employment in the 1990's. The following year, I completed an intensive Post-Graduate Advanced Diploma in Remote Sensing from the Centre of Geographic Sciences (CoGS) in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia.
Subsequent to those studies, I ended up in Toronto working in the corporate business world using geographic information systems and remote sensing to help companies be more efficient. Later, I found out that was not what I wanted to do. I really wanted to work on an advanced project in geology using GIS and remote sensing. In 1998, exploration was still in a relaxed mode and not too many companies were hiring. So I ended up contacting Sandra Barr to enquire about M.Sc. opportunities at Acadia. My original goal was to do a regional study of the southern Superior Province between North Bay and Cobalt in Northeastern Ontario. Having worked in this area as a summer geology student, I knew that not much regional academic work had been undertaken there.
Sandra had a better plan ... Cape Breton Island! So for the next couple of years I worked at Acadia on an M.Sc. The goal of the thesis was to develop and integrate a vast array of land use, scientific and remotely sensed data within a Geographical Information System, and use the results to evaluate the various geological interpretations of the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia. Six years after graduating, I realize one of the most important parts of this project was the large study area. It gave me great training to manage and analyse regional-to-detailed perspectives on geology and human activities.
Upon graduation, I went on to work as a contract geologist with the Falconbridge Ltd. exploration team in Labrador and Northern Quebec. What was gratifying about working with this large firm is that we used the same processes developed from my Acadia M.Sc. to generate geological exploration targets over large areas. With talks of mergers and acquisitions (Falconbridge and Noranda), work stability was not part of the equation. So in 2002-2003, I made a life choice to move back to northeastern Ontario and start a GIS/Remote Sensing consulting company.
During this transition period, I started generating my own regional exploration projects. I already had a pretty good GIS/Remote Sensing database of the area ever since Dr. Raeside had given me the opportunity during my M.Sc. to do a special topic paper on the Lake Temiskaming Structural Zone and Temiskaming kimberlite fields. Unfortunately, these compilation projects were not generating any revenues, so during that time I taught at the Haileybury School of Mines and worked on heritage resources and land use planning projects.
In the summer of 2003, the Temiskaming region hosted the VIIIth International Kimberlite Conference and that is when I met and joined with the Tres-Or Resources Ltd. (TRS) exploration team. Part of the deal was to bring my GIS database along with me and to incorporate it with the Tres-Or database. Since then, the majority of my time has been spent trying to find new diamondiferous kimberlites in northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec.
Every year since then, TRS has found a new kimberlite body, but one of the highlights was the discovery of the large diamondiferous Lapointe Kimberlite in May 2005. Exploration for diamondiferous kimberlites in this part of Canada has been ongoing since the 1970's, but it is in the last 15 years that most of the known kimberlite pipes have been discovered. This relatively long exploration cycle speaks to the challenges of exploration for diamonds in northeastern Ontario and particularly along the Lake Temiskaming Structural Zone. Persistence and a multidisciplinary approach have yielded success for Tres-Or.
It must be noted that the Lapointe Pipe is in the middle of a large granite batholith and this discovery started one of the largest staking rushes in this mature mining camp. I would like to thank Dr. Barr & Dr. Raeside for immersing me into granitoid rocks, because it seems that most explorers leave those rocks alone.
So, what exactly do I do? Well, for a while I was trying to find a big enough Temiskaming diamond to put on the finger of my Nova Scotia jewel, Coleen MacNeil. We got married last summer; however, she had to accept an Ekati diamond and we are expecting our first child in 2007. Thanks to Coleen, I have not forgotten Nova Scotia, as we spend 2 weeks in August every summer at her family's summerhouse in Grand Narrows, Cape Breton Island. I still play lots of hockey, and I also coach some of the local goaltenders.
Martin Ethier, M.Sc.
Hintlerland Geoscience & Geomatics