Stone products have been quarried from the Niagara Escarpment between the communities of Queenston and St. David’s in the Niagara Region for over 200 years.
The Queenston Quarry (formerly Queenston Quarries) traces its origins to John Brown, a Scottish stone-cutter and masonry contractor, who is the first recorded owner/operator of the quarry (c. 1840). However Brown was not the first to see the potential of this site. Local builders made use of limestone from the site in their buildings prior to recorded quarrying. The earliest known examples are the David Prest Watson House (York Road, 1819) and Old St. John’s Anglican Church (Portage Road, 1825). In 1831, Erie and Ontario Railway reported “inexhaustible quarries of lime and building stone” and believed the stone could provide a revenue source for the fledgling company. During this period (1781-1840s) James Secord Sr., one of the first settlers of Upper Canada, owned the quarry land. It was subsquently inherited by his two sons, James Secord Jr. (who married the infamous Laura) and David Secord.
As the people of Southern Ontario and Canada built our modern cities and culture, stone from the Queenston Quarry played a vital structural role. Queenston Limestone provided the comfort of a warm home, memorialized our country’s losses, commemorated our shared victories, carried Ontario’s first railway, and housed the power of government.
Many products have been quarried from the Queenston Quarry including rock cement, crushed aggregate and the renowned Lockport Dolomite, commonly known as Queenston limestone. A 40 hectare portion of the rehabilitated site was transferred in 1987 through the Ontario Heritage Foundation to the Niagara Parks Commission. The transfer included natural and heritage features: portion of the Escarpment brow, rock cement kilns, caverns (known as the “caves”), original 1800s quarry locations, remnants of the quarry worker village, and a radio microwave communications tower. All of these features are publically accessible along the Bruce Trail. The remaining 100 hectares of quarry is currently owned by the Queenston Quarry Reclamation Company. A portion of the property continues to be quarried for dimensional building stone.
Succession of Ownership of the Queenston Quarry Lands
- James Secord, Sr., 1781-1801
- James Secord, Jr. and David Secord, 1801-1840s
- John Brown, 1840s-1848
- Samuel H. Smith of Thorold, 1848-1861
- William Hendershot, major operator, 1861-c. 1895 under which many companies operated under royalty agreements, including Johnson and Murray, P. A. Johnson, Great Western Railway
- Lowreys of St. David’s, c. 1895-1924
- Canada Crushed Stone Company Limited, 1925-1952
- Steetley Industries, 1952-date unknown
- Redland Quarries, date unknown-1998
- Lafarge Canada, 1998-2008
- Queenston Quarry Reclamation Company, 2008-present