Roxana Babinska’s petrography or the love of heavy stones


Reading time: 7 minute

OTTAWA – Every summer weekend, ONFR+ presents a new episode of Un Franco, une passion. Whether it is a collection or a genuine concern, discover the unique passion that lives in a Franco-Ontarian or a Franco-Ontarian, from north to south and from east to west. Heading to Ottawa with Roxana Babinska.

It was a sunny morning when Roxana Babinska opened the doors of her Ottawa home. A warm and welcoming place where some ancient sculptures and rock art sit around us. However the stones are what caught our eye. How many are there? It’s impossible to say. A hundred small stones maybe, a few bigger ones.

As our conversation continued, we learned many things about the history of the stones and some memories of our own classes came back. A teacher of the virtual school learning program (PAVÉ) of the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO) first showed us his statues and sculptures made of stones. “Here we have a sculpture of serpentine, there is a sculpture of basalt, which is an igneous rock”, he indicated. “This is the hardest rock. »

Sculpture from basalt, a volcanic igneous rock. Image credit: Lila Mouch

This love of rocks, through the spectrum of science, is not a teacher’s sudden whim. Since the age of 16, he has had a passion for photography “to recognize the details that speak to me and they are transformed into the details of nature”.

The origin of all this is nature, he says, but it is also art. “As a child, I was exposed to many things in art and my first toys were small clay sculptures. »

“Then as a teenager, I turned to a friend’s mother,” he continued. “He is very artistic. He has Inuit carvings. His grandfather built cabins in Algonquin Park near Rock Lake, they built the big rock themselves. This is a very important place for him: it is his first introduction to nature.

natural science

Precious stones and minerals do not interest him. No, it’s the rocks and especially the heavy rocks. For him, it is difficult to explain: “I am not trying to have more, from this point of view, I am not making a collection”.

This love for stones comes from a conglomeration of events, travel, research and great curiosity. Like all things we love without knowing why, Roxana Babinska loves stones, their beauty and what they symbolize.

As he talks about it, it is clear that this relationship with the rock makes it an ancestral “collaboration”. Geology, petrology or petrography are sciences that study rocks. Stone is a part of human history.

Petrography, study of rocks
Roxana teaches rock formation and classification to her 4th graders. Photo credit: Lila Mouch

“On some trips, the raw rock really impressed me at some sites.” Cappadocia in Turkey known for its large rock formations, then Egypt and Mount Sinai, or even Petra in Jordan, “in the middle of the desert, the rock is in a unique way. I went to the caves. It is a refuge, like caves. Ms. Babinska made contact with mountains, rocks and caves in Spain, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina and many others.

Stone is a material that has been used since the dawn of time, in the heart of our planet. For enthusiasts, stones are part of nature, “but people buy menhirs to decorate the town for example”. In fact, rock shapes our roads, our bike paths, our parking lots and our shopping centers. “We can even write history on the tombstones,” laughed the collector.

He recalls a trip to Manitoulin Island, Ontario, to an aboriginal reserve where there was a site off limits to tourists. “After applying to the council of the band, I was allowed. There, there was a mountain and at the top, a place I wanted to see. »

“At the top of this mountain”, he continued, almost fascinated, “there is a stone with a certain shape: by sitting and then lying down, the stone acquired the shape of the body”.

rock art

Listening to her tell her story, her travels and her discoveries, we understand that Mem Babinska is a historian, a lover of art and nature.

His professional career is therefore not surprising because before becoming a teacher, he was an art historian. “I studied in Europe and lived there for ten years. I was interested in painting and inevitably became interested in sculptures and architecture”.

He says that a third of the world’s artistic products are made of solid materials. “I discovered art in Canada and has a relationship with nature, for example in Inuit sculptures, the basis is matter and therefore stone. I was led to be interested in the material. »

After all these years in the mountains, I never realized that I wanted to bring home -Roxana Babinska

All those years of climbing mountains and stepping on rock must have created this insanity in him. “Mountain climbing is looking at your feet for four hours,” he pointed out, “and all you see is the rock on the ground! “.

“After all these years in the mountains, I never realized that I wanted to bring some home. »

A collaboration with nature

“The first time I picked up a heavy rock, I was in Gatineau Park. There are many gray stones, except for one that sticks out,” he said, pointing to a shiny white stone. The first heavy stone of Ms. Babinska has a special place. “I don’t believe in the spiritual side. For me it is a thing of art”. Like sculptures or paintings, his stones bring him calm and peace by observing them.

Roche Lourde, found in Quebec in Gatineau Park
First heavy stone found in Gatineau Park. Image credit: Lila Mouch

It was during his hikes and walks of all kinds that the backpacker made his discoveries. He also shows that there is a balance of power: “It is a force of nature (…). I carried them in my bag and they anchored me to the ground, somewhere I made this game. »

However, Roxana Babinska admitted that she did not give herself a mission. “I didn’t expect to see a stone. I don’t want more. For me, it’s just a relationship with nature. »

In the fourth year program, the teacher teaches the students in his class the main types of stones, but also their classification. “We used to do expeditions in the school grounds, to collect some, then the students had to classify the stones according to their own system”.

Now, like a petrographer, “I look at the rocks, I try to know if it is an igneous rock (intrusive or extrusive), sedimentary, metamorphic, granite or something else”.

“Frank Lloyd Wright, made sure to build with nature and stone”, he said, “I am the opposite, I bring the stone to my house”.

In his eyes, healing is in nature and therefore it is normal to bring it home: “It gives me as much surprise as in front of a work of art. »

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