St. Margaret’s Bay

There are countless small, old quarries throughout Nova Scotia that helped build the province.

This former quarry, now a swimming hole, in St. Margaret’s Bay is an example.

It is located within the area of the St. Margaret’s Bay Hydro System, which was built in 1920-22 and is the oldest hydro plant in Nova Scotia. The quarry is on a dirt road called Pipeline Road, a reference to the hydro system’s pipeline through the area. The picture below is part of the system that can be seen on highway 103 near Tantallon.

It is not known when the quarry was worked but aerial photos suggest it was sometime between the mid 1960s and early 1990s. The site appears undisturbed and there is no lake prior to 1964 but the lake is definitely there by 1992.

Quarries like this are often called “wayside” quarries in the industry, meaning they are small and used only temporarily or infrequently.

They often generated very little documentation in prior generations so it can be difficult to figure out when they were worked and what the aggregate was used for unless someone happens to remember.

In the modern era all mines and quarries, regardless of size, are very stringently-regulated by governments and huge quantities of documentation and scientific reports are generated through the permitting process and ongoing operations.

Today, before they even start mining, companies must get government approval of reclamation plans and post reclamation bonds (money in escrow, basically) that ensure funds are available to reclaim sites from both a safety and environmental perspective. Sites are usually either designed to become lakes or are refilled with the same dirt and rock that was excavated from the site so the land can be returned to nature or used for development. (The video at this link shows the modern reclamation process:

Former surface mines and quarries often become lakes because they naturally fill with rainwater and water from underground springs. Quarries in places like Cheticamp ( and Walton ( are also beautiful lakes and swimming holes now.