If one looks toward the escarpment to the north of Dundas today, one sees a tree covered slope, a glimpse of a residential subdivision, and an occasional passing train. Only a generation ago, however, the area was a hive of activity, as the largest quarry operations in Canada took place there. The site was ideal, as the excellent quality upper escarpment limestone and dolostone was easily accessible and transportable to the markets.
In 1847, Charles Farquhar began quarry operations at the escarpment by constructing a kiln for the production of lime used for mortar and as a flux in iron foundrys. Desjardins Canal Company records show 322 tons of lime being shipped outwards that year but does not give the destination. Two years earlier 1264 tons of freestone was shipped through the canal; Charles may have been involved in this venture as well. He expanded his operations in 1853 when the Great Western Railway laid tracks along the escarpment just below his kiln. Farquhar’s operations ceased around 1880, and the site lay unused until 1905, when it was purchased by Ohio born Charles Marshall Doolittle, whose father Charles E. Doolittle was one of the principals in the formation of Stelco. Together with Horace Wilcox, a cousin, the brow quarry was expanded, a crusher installed, and a railway siding was added north of the mainline. The quarry reopened as Doolittle and Wilcox Crushed Stone Company. In 1910 a further expansion was undertaken and a screening house was built below the brow. Horace Wilcox died in 1912, and the company was reorganized as the Canada Crushed Stone Corporation with Charles Doolittle as President and General Manager. In 1922, while the plant was closed for repairs, a major fire destroyed the screen house, bins, conveyor galleries and roll house. However, facilities were quickly rebuilt and operations resumed within a matter of weeks. To improve shipping, a branch line from the TH&B railroad which passed through Dundas was extended up to the loading site. Much of the quarried product was shipped locally and further afield to steel mills for use as a flux in steel making and for furnace linings.
By 1934 the two quarries on the brow of the escarpment were nearly worked out (about 10 million tons had been taken from these sites), and a new quarry was established on Highway 5. An electrified railway line was constructed to transfer material to the existing brow facilities. By this time the face of the escarpment was crowded with tall buildings housing huge cylindrical crushers and screening drums, together with offices, shops, powerhouses, and long covered conveyors to transfer the aggregate from one location to another and to stockpiles. As well as the operation at the Dundas site, Canada Crushed Stone Corp. was carrying out quarrying operations at Hagersville, Puslinch, Vinemount and other locations.
In 1951, Steetley Canada, a division of Steetley Lime and Building Stone Company of Great Britain, bought the quarry operations, and a second plant was opened on Highway 5. By 1954 the quarry employed 73 workers, but as time went on the activity shifted to the Highway 5 quarries, and by 1975 the escarpment operations ceased. The railway siding below the CNR mainline was removed, later to become the site of a housing subdivision. In 1992, Redland Quarries Inc. purchased the site; it was subsequently sold to Lafarge Corporation in 1998. Until they were dismantled in 1986, the crusher building and parts of the conveyors remained as a landmark and reminder of this past industry.