East River Point

Former mines and quarries are often hidden in plain view!

This is a limestone quarry in Lunenburg County that operated for a century, helping build some of Halifax’s oldest buildings. Today it is a lovely lake.

The quarry likely started sometime in the mid-1800s on East River Point, which was then called Indian Point.

Charles Lordly (1820-1889) owned the operation. He was Chester’s first municipal clerk from 1879-1889, a Justice of the Peace and a well-known supporter of the Anglican Church and various community causes. (The first Chester Municipal Office, built in 1879, was located on the Lordly property and still stands behind what is now the Lordly House Museum).

Charles’ son, Captain Edwin Lordly, operated the quarry in the 1890s after his father’s death. Edwin also served as Chester’s clerk from 1890-1910.

The quarry’s stone was used to make lime. Lime is produced by crushing limestone down to powder and calcining it (heating it to dry it out). Much of Nova Scotia’s limestone production has been to produce agricultural lime which is spread on farm fields to improve soil quality.

Lime is also an ingredient in cement and much of the Lordly quarry’s stone was used for this purpose.

The quarry’s limestone had what a 1914 report called “hydraulic properties,” meaning its limestone was good for producing hydraulic cement, which solidifies quickly. Non-hydraulic cement can take days to harden.

According to the Geological Survey of Canada, limestone from the quarry was used in the cement in the “old barracks and many of the oldest buildings in Halifax, and had stood the weather better than any other.” The “old barracks” were the Wellington Barracks, built in the 1850s of bricks held together by cement/mortar. The barracks still stand at Canadian Forces Base, Halifax-Stadacona.

Lime from the quarry was also used in Halifax in the arches of kilns because it was known to withstand heat better than limes from other sources.

The Geological Survey of Canada wrote in 1904 that the Lordly quarry had not been used for “the last few years,” which suggests Edwin Lordly ran it for only a handful of years after his father’s death.

William Parks, author of the 1914 report, predicted that the quarry’s hydraulic properties “should bring it into notice in the future, as it [the limestone] occurs in large quantity and on tidewater, while the Halifax and Southwestern railway passes close to it.” Parks was proven right - the limestone’s quality and access to transportation led to the Mersey Paper Company operating the quarry from 1930-49, using the limestone in its Liverpool pulp and paper mill.

In 1946, the Mersey Paper Company was looking for new sources of limestone. A government memo that year discussed several potential limestone deposits in Lunenburg County and concluded that the Zenas Meisner property in East River, just north of the rail line (the Aspotagon Trail now), was worth further study. A small amount of extraction had been done at the Meisner property “many years ago,” according to the memo.

However, it was at another nearby site, just south of the rail line, that the company opened a quarry in 1950 after it shut down the Lordly quarry. The new quarry was half a kilometre northeast of the Lordly quarry, on what is now called Quarry Road.

Lime has several important uses in pulp and paper manufacturing. The main one is as an ingredient in caustic soda, which is used in several stages of paper production. For example, caustic soda is used to break down wood fibre in the cooking process and is used in the bleaching process to control pH. Caustic soda is also used in paper recycling to separate ink from used paper.