Sawmill Brook

The Sawmill Brook sandstone quarry in Pictou County was opened around 1830 by John McKenzie.

The quarry, five kilometres southwest of Pictou in Lyons Brook, produced stone that was both used locally and shipped to Halifax and Charlottetown. For example, stone from the Sawmill Brook quarry was used in the exterior walls of PEI’s legislature in Charlottetown.

McKenzie also owned a sawmill and a grist mill.

McKenzie used stone from his quarry to build his home, pictured below, in 1832. He commissioned stonemasons Robert Hogg and his son John Hogg to build the House on his Mill Brook Farm property.

In 1847 an American firm, the Acadia Company, took over the quarry and built a rail spur through a tunnel under the Sawmill Bridge, along the shore and out on a long pier to the channel. Stone from the quarry was moved along the rails by gravity and hauled to ships in the channel. The major market for the stone was the United States.

The American Civil War caused the operation to shut down in 1859. A Mr. McKenzie (a different one from John McKenzie mentioned above) ran the quarry for the Acadia Company and took it over after Acadia left. He continued to work the site until it permanently closed in the late 1800s.

The quarry is overgrown today and homes have been built nearby, making the site an example of how former mines/quarries go on to serve communities in other ways after extraction is done.

Another quarry operated about 2.5 kilometres west of the Sawmill Brook quarry. The McKenzie Quarry was opened in Hardwood Hill in 1987 to provide fill for the construction of the Common User Dock in Pictou. About 100,000 tons of stone were extracted for the project.

Sawmill Brook was named for a sawmill built at its mouth in 1769 by William Kennedy.

Sawmill Brook today.