Amherst Red Stone Quarry

The Amherst Red Stone Quarry provided distinctive red sandstone for many of Amherst’s most beautiful and historic buildings. Today, it is a lovely pond in a field, an example of how former mines and quarries are often hidden in plain sight!

The quarry operated from about 1889-1914 and was opened by James Donalds, a butcher in Amherst, who used its stone to build his butcher shop at 91 Victoria St. East.

The quarry property consisted of 20 acres on Donalds' farm, east of Willow St.

A report described the quarry in 1911 as being about 250 feet wide and 100 feet long. It had four steam derricks, each with a separate boiler for producing the steam. One of the boilers had a larger capacity than the others and operated beside a large pump, two steam drills and one channeller. Fifteen men were employed in the quarry’s final years.

Stone was extracted in blocks as thick as four feet but the average thickness was about two feet.
The colour of the stone varied in different areas of the quarry. The darker, most desirable red was found in the lower layers of stone.

The quarry’s prices in 1911 were:

• Large rough blocks: $1.25 per ton delivered in Amherst
• Random scabbled blocks (only partially shaped or roughly finished): 35 cents per cubic foot
• Dimension block: 50 cents per cubic foot

In 1910, production was 2000 tons but 1911 production grew to an estimated 10,000 tons.
One challenge the quarry had was that the rail line that hauled the stone to Amherst was more than a mile away.

Amherst buildings built with the quarry’s stone included the Bank of Nova Scotia (built 1907), the Old Bank of Montreal (1906), Trinity-St. Stephen’s (1906), the First Baptist Church (1895) and the courthouse (1888).

The stone was also used in Halifax, Truro and Ontario cities such as Toronto, Hamilton, Stratford and others.

Amherst First Baptist Church