Governor Lake Pegmatite

A small quarry, referred to as Governor Lake Pegmatite, operated just west of Bayer’s Lake Industrial Park in the early 1920s.

A deposit of pegmatite, a rock similar to granite but which usually contains exceptionally large crystals, was discovered in 1920 by Norman McMillan. McMillan opened a quarry the following year.

He extracted about 200 tons of feldspar, one of the minerals that often comprises pegmatite, and shipped 16 tons to Brandram-Henderson Company, a paint company, for testing. There is no known record of the test results but the quarry operated only briefly so perhaps they were not promising, or there may not have been a buyer for the feldspar.

The site is overgrown today and still has waste rock on the quarry’s floor. (In mining, the term “waste rock” means rock leftover from extraction and processing, not that there is anything wrong with the rock.)

The former quarry’s rock face is about 3-5 metres high and 15 metres wide.

The deposit is called Governor Lake Pegmatite even though the site is just a stone’s throw from the northeast corner of the Black Duck Ponds, along the Whopper Dopper trail. Governor Lake is half a kilometre southwest of the former quarry.

A pegmatite is a type of granitic rock formed from the very gaseous last stages in the formation of a granite body. Pegmatites are composed almost entirely of large crystals that range from at least one centimeter in diameter up to many meters diameter. For example, a large crystal of the mineral spodumene at the Etta Pegmatite Mine in South Dakota was 42 feet long, 5 feet in diameter and yielded 90 tons of spodumene, which is a lithium-rich silicate mineral.
Minerals have a natural geometrically-regular form of the molecules that comprise it and this symmetrical arrangement forms crystal faces. Pictured below is a single quartz crystal from the Governor Lake pegmatite. It is not perfectly formed, but you can see the angular crystal faces terminating at the top of the crystal. You can also see that it’s quite large.

Sparkly muscovite, a type of mica, can be seen in much of the rock at the site. The ability of muscovite to split into thin transparent sheets - sometimes up to several feet across - gave it an early use as windowpanes. In the 1700s it was mined for this use from pegmatites in the area around Moscow, Russia. These panes were called "muscovy glass" and that term is believed to be the origin of the name "muscovite."

The “Henderson” in the Brandram-Henderson Company came from a paint company called Henderson and Potts which was founded by Joseph R. Henderson and C. H. Potts in 1875 at Five Islands, Colchester County, to be near ship building activity. In 1879, the company moved to Halifax and began producing paints, varnishes and enamels. In 1888, its plant was destroyed by fire. In 1889, a larger plant was built at Young and Kempt Streets that was still operating in 1969.

In 1906, Henderson and Potts amalgamated with Brandram Bros. and Co. of London, England to become Brandram-Henderson. The company later expanded west and founded factories in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Henderson and Potts operated a number of barite mines in Nova Scotia because barite is used to make white paint.

Nova Scotia’s first barite mine, and likely the first in Canada, was the Eureka mine in Colchester County. See its story at

The biggest barite mine in Nova Scotia, and arguably the largest barite deposit in the world, was the Walton Mine, Hants County, which operated from 1941-78. Learn about the mine and the surprising role it indirectly played in United States political history at