EAHS thanks Neil Patterson who researched and authored this informative article, including the pictures. Neil is an outstanding source of historical information about our area and more pictures of the quarry can be found in his book: History of the Township of North Crosby and Westport.
The first Halladay family arrived in Massachusetts in the United States in the 1660’s, and it is from this family that the Halladays of South Crosby and Bastard are descended. Noah Halladay of Hartford County Connecticut, served in Colonel Timothy Bedel’s Regiment during the Revolutionary War. In the 1790 U.S. Census, it shows that he had joined other Loyalists in Vermont; and in 1801, he again moved his family to Augusta Township, in Upper Canada. His wife Mehitable, 7 daughters and 6 sons moved to South Crosby and Bastard Townships after Noah’s death in 1802. Samuel, Henry, Ebenezer and Alvin all appear in the early 1800’s owning land in the area around what would become Elgin. In 1804, Samuel, the eldest son, purchased lot 12 in the second concession of South Crosby, the land where Elgin now sits, and 14 years later sold it to Ebenezer. Lot 13 in the 1st concession was purchased by Henry. It was on this lot that the British Ordnance Department opened the quarry in 1827 for the stone to build the Jones Falls Dam and Locks, the Davis, Chaffey, Newboro and Narrows Locks. This quarry, known as the Halladay Quarry, operated until 1831; and a construction village existed on that lot during that five-year period. The families that owned the land actually lived in Bastard Township not more than a few hundred feet from the quarry. Anson Miller Halladay, Henry’s son, then Trueman Halladay and his wife Dorothy, followed by their son Edgar and his wife Sarah owned the quarry property. The property on lot 12 in the 1st concession was owned by Trueman Judd Halladay and has continued to this day as Halladay Land.
The Quarry that opened in 1827 required a large work force needed to cut and transport the stone. The stones were cut using the very labour intensive plug and feather method.
Holes were drilled along the rock ledge 7 to 8 inches in depth about a foot apart and in from the edge at the required stone size. Then iron wedges, called feathers were placed in the holes along the line. A tapered wedge, called the plug was then placed inside the row of wedges already in the drilled holes. The wedges were then pounded systematically with a hard wooden mallet until the rock split along the line. Evidence still exists along the line at the top of the ledge of the last stones cut in the quarry. The stone was shipped out of the quarry on a flat wooden sled called a stone boat pulled by horses or oxen.
Each stone weighed about 1000 pounds and was lifted with wooden tripods equipped with pulleys and rope. Only 2 stones were placed on each sled. In many places where some type of accident took place, 2 stones have been left as they could not be lifted back on the sleds confirming that only 2 stones were transported on each sled.
There is very little information about the quarry in the Royal Engineers Records. However, Father John MacDonald, the camps visiting Priest from St. John’s in Perth, did provide some details about the mess hall used for Mass and the fact that married men and their families lived there. From his visit in January of 1831, he gives a list of the names of parishioners who paid a tithe among those that remained after the quarry stopped cutting stone.
The village that housed the workers and those with families was located, as was the quarry, on the right side of the road (County Road 8) going from Elgin to Philipsville. The village was on the East side of the creek that runs past the farm builds near the Quarry. The area where the ground was leveled indicates that a number of buildings existed, such as; bunk houses, dining hall, cook house, married family houses, administrative building, blacksmith, workshop, stable, storage facility and commissary where food, tobacco, alcohol and other supplies could be purchased. There is evidence that a dam was built on the creek to supply water year-round for the camp. A substantial village existed there from 1827 to 1832 as hundreds of stones were cut and shipped to the canal sites.
In 1890, the Railway and Canals Department need stone to repair some spots on the Canal and when they tried to get the stone at the quarry the stone was broken and not usable. They tried on the West side and extracted a large number of blocks. These to had soft spots and were unusable. Those stones are still there and are used as a fence on the original Mustard Farm. They then opened a quarry West of Westport and got the stones they needed from there. That quarry now belongs to Tackaberry & Sons Construction and highway crushed stone to make pavement comes from there.