Lower Cove Grindstones

In the 1800s, Nova Scotia sold the best grindstones in North America! A grindstone is a round stone, usually sandstone, used for sharpening tools. Lower Cove in Cumberland County was the main area where the stones were extracted, shaped and exported from.

The biggest company was Atlantic Grindstone which operated from 1831 to the early 1900s in Lower Cove because it had excellent quality sandstone and access to tidewater for exporting. Access to tidewater is still a key advantage for Nova Scotia mining companies.

Prior to the 1800s, Acadians produced grindstones from Lower Cove and other sites on Chignecto Bay for domestic use. The British army used grindstones from Lower Cove to sharpen their weapons in the War of 1812.

The industry blossomed when Atlantic Grindstone started. Within a couple years it employed more than 100 men and had several quarries. Its stones were considered the best in North America and production tripled from 10,300 stones in 1831 to 30,671 in 1834.

Atlantic Grindstone had four quarries on land. It also extracted from the intertidal zone at low tide. Slabs of rock were loosened by gunpowder, tied to rafts and floated ashore at high tide to be cut. A skilled worker could cut 15-20 stones a day, up to 2.5 metres in diameter.

Atlantic Grindstone was sold to an American company in 1904. The foundation of its plant and a few original buildings that are now homes can still be found. Footings for the wharf and unfinished grindstones are still visible in the intertidal zone.

The saying "keep your nose to the grindstone" means to be conscientious and work hard - something Nova Scotia's mining industry is familiar with! The saying first appeared in the 1500s.