King Quarry

Quarries in Purcell’s Cove, some of the oldest quarries in Halifax, played a key role in building the city.

The King Quarry is likely the oldest quarry in Halifax. It began in the 1700s and its ironstone and slate were used for many historic buildings like the Citadel, Martello Tower in Point Pleasant Park, All Saints Cathedral, the lower 70 feet of the Dingle Tower, Fort Charlotte on George’s Island and Fort Clarence (where the Dartmouth oil refinery is today).

Like many former mines/quarries, the site is now a beautiful lake.

King Quarry had to working areas, about 200 metres apart. The stone was hauled to a government wharf just east of the working areas and shipped around Point Pleasant Park to Halifax’s waterfront.

The quarry is old enough that it has had several different names. It's also been called Bluestone and Dalhousie (Dalhousie University was the quarry’s last owner and used its stone in many campus buildings).

Ironstone was a common building material in the 1800s in Halifax because it could be quarried locally. It was not considered the most attractive stone so it was often “dressed up” with granite or sandstone trim. As a 1914 government report put it, ironstone’s appearance is “not likely to encourage its use for any of the finer purposes.” Many buildings around Historic Properties used this combination of materials.

At its peak in the 1800s, King Quarry employed about 160 men and produced as much as 100 tons of stone per day.

The quarry’s output in 1910 was about 600 tons and the stone cost $2 per ton at the wharf for building blocks.

There's also a Queen Quarry in Purcell's Cove. (Historical government-owned quarries were often named for whoever sat on England's throne at the time - sometimes kings, sometimes queens.)

The Queen Quarry was also one of the first to operate in Halifax. Its granite was used to build buildings like Martello Tower in Point Pleasant Park, the Citadel and Sherbrooke Tower on McNab’s Island. The government took the quarry over from contractor John Trider in 1828 when the Citadel’s reconstruction started.

Stone was moved by tram to the Queen Wharf in Purcell’s Cove and shipped to Halifax.

The Purcell’s Cove Quarry was used for building stone after the Queen Quarry ceased production. It later also produced armour stone and rip rap. The quarry was semicircular in shape, 125 metres in diameter with the western face over 35 metres high. Holes were drilled at the top of the working face, filled with explosive and blasted to free stone so it could be collected.

The Coughlan Quarry was operated for several generations by the Coughlan family, stone cutters who produced monuments and building stone as far back as the early 1900s. A tram carried stone from the Coughlan Quarry to the Queen Wharf. This was the last quarry to operate in Purcells Cove – it shut down in the 1960s.

King Quarry.

King Quarry.

Wharf at Queen Quarry.