Cheticamp Limestone

The former Cheticamp gypsum quarry is one of Nova Scotia’s best-known and most picturesque swimming holes. Less well-known is the fact that limestone was also quarried there in 1940.

A company called the North Inverness Limestone Association extracted limestone to make agricultural lime, which is spread on farm fields to improve soil quality. Lime is produced by crushing limestone down to powder and calcining it. Calcining means to heat a mineral to the point of changing its mineral structure. It is done as part of the process of manufacturing minerals into products. Calcining limestone removes carbon dioxide and leaves behind lime.

Much of Nova Scotia’s limestone production has been to produce lime for farmers. We could not grow enough food to feed earth’s population without fertilizers and other tools made by possible by mining.

According to a 1940 Department of Mines memo, the company operated a portable rock crusher, “fastened to a trailer and hauled to various districts around the shore from Cheticamp to Margaree Forks. A farm tractor supplies the motive power and it is also used to operate the crusher.”

Starting in spring 1940, one of the sites the company worked was at the Cheticamp (Belle Marche) gypsum quarry. The company extracted a band of limestone in the west end of the gypsum quarry. Approximately 100 tons had been extracted and supplied to farmers by the time a government inspector visited the site on September 10. It was also noticed that finely crushed gypsum from the gypsum operation, then operated by National Gypsum, contained a large percentage of lime. Samples were tested and found to contain 75% lime. This material was also used by farmers to sweeten soil (raise the pH).

A 1937 Department of Mines memo discussed the fact that the North Inverness Limestone Association had crushed 300 tons of limestone the previous year. The memo said, “The Association has not any one definite quarry in operation but a series of small ones…As the demand for lime arises in any locality a portable crusher is moved to the nearest suitable outcrop to supply the demand, satisfactory arrangements being made with the owner of the property.”

A. J. Boudreau of Cheticamp was North Inverness Limestone Association’s president and William Lefort was its secretary.

The Cheticamp gypsum quarry shut down around the same time that the North Inverness Limestone Association worked in the quarry. After the outbreak of WWII in 1939, shipping to England became impossible and the Montreal market, where most of the quarry’s gypsum had been shipped, was too small to justify continued operation of the site. The quarry’s last shipment of gypsum to England was dumped at sea so the boat could immediately be used by the government in the war effort.

See the story of the Cheticamp gypsum quarry at