The Springville limestone quarry was worked from 1891 to 1904. Today, it is a lovely lake.

The Springville quarry in Pictou County is part of the long history of steelmaking in Nova Scotia. It was worked by the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company to provide flux for the company’s blast furnace at Ferrona. (Flux is used in the smelting process to promote fluidity and remove impurities in the form of slag. A number of Nova Scotian limestone quarries provided it to steel mills.)

Frank W. Calder, in his book called “Histories and Stories of Springville,” said the quarry was sometimes called the Holmes quarry, a reference to the Holmes family that immigrated to Pictou County from Ross-shire, Scotland, in 1803 and settled in the Springville area. The high-profile family had some involvement in mining and in the 1800s, it produced an MLA and senator, John Holmes, and a premier of Nova Scotia, John’s son, Simon H. Holmes.

The Springville quarry was 300 feet long and the limestone deposit was 40 feet thick. It was worked extensively.

Today, the quarry is partially filled with water surrounded by high cliffs. Former surface mines and quarries often become lakes because they naturally fill with rainwater and water from underground springs. Water is pumped out of most mines/quarries to keep them from filling so when operations are done and the pumping stops, the sites fill naturally.

The Springville quarry was the largest of several limestone quarries in the area.

According to a 1934 federal Department of Mines report called “Limestones of Canada,” another quarry was about three-quarters of a mile to the northwest. It was operated by David McLean and quarried to a small extent. However, the limestone dipped into a hillside which would have required either tunnelling or removing large amounts of overburden to continue to extract the limestone. (Overburden is the soil and rock on top of the deposit – the hill, in this case.) Either approach would have made extraction more expensive, which was unfortunate since, according to the report, this quarry had the purest limestone in the district.

Another small quarry, operated by Simon McLean, was about one-quarter mile farther north at the junction of Highway 348 and Irish Mountain Road.

According to Calder’s book, there was a third small quarry in the area, “just opposite the road to Brookville.”

In addition to supplying Ferrona’s blast furnace, limestone from Springville was used by farmers as a soil sweetener (to increase pH). Agricultural lime is made by crushing limestone down to powder, calcining and spreading it on farm fields to improve soil quality. (Calcining means heating a mineral to the point of changing its mineral structure. It is done as part of the process of manufacturing minerals into products. Calcining limestone removes carbon dioxide and leaves behind lime.)

See the story of Ferrona at https://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/brookfields-connection

See the story of the nearby Bridgeville iron mines at https://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/bridgeville