From hand tools to hydraulics: Wallace Quarries work spans generations

By Jordan Parker

For more than 150 years, sandstone extracted by Wallace Quarries has helped build some of Canada’s most notable buildings.

The Flynn family has been working at the quarry for four generations, and now that Tom Flynn is president and owner, he employs seven-to-10 people in the rural community of Wallace, N.S.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to help people and provide employment here,” said Flynn.

“There isn’t a great deal of industry work down here, so we try to help in whatever way we can.”

The quarry, which has been open since 1863, has seen Tom’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father all work there.

His dad re-opened the quarry in the 1980s after a 20-year closure, and Tom took over Wallace Quarries Ltd. after his father.

“It’s pretty special to have our own bit of family history there,” Flynn said. “It’s pretty amazing to know I’m doing the same work my great-grandfather was.”

Wallace Quarries’ sandstone has graced Parliament Hill, the Dominion Building, Dalhousie University, the Nova Scotia Legislature and countless other landmarks in Canada.

Now, Wallace will be working with the Armour Group to put sandstone on the Queen’s Marque building project.

According to an Armour Group press release, the sandstone will be the main cladding material on the Halifax Waterfront project.

“This substantial procurement makes it the largest order for Nova Scotia sandstone in over 50 years,” said the release.

“The choice of Wallace sandstone demonstrates Queen’s Marque’s commitment to being shaped by Nova Scotia’s past, present and future by incorporating the region’s natural resources in a respectful and artful manner.”

The Queen’s Marque project will adhere to all the things that make Nova Scotia unique.

“The colour and texture of the material is a nod to notable historic buildings in Halifax such as the Dominion Building, Halifax City Hall, and the Nova Scotia Legislature,” said the release.

“Intentionally selecting a stone indicative of Nova Scotian terrain allows Queen’s Marque to positively impact the region and local businesses.”

Flynn is overwhelmed with the support Wallace Quarries is seeing from the Armour Group.

“This is all pretty exciting. It’s going to be amazing to see the sandstone in a major project, and it’ll keep us so busy,” Flynn said.

He added  Wallace Quarries has undergone a lot of changes in the extraction of sandstone over the years.

“Everything was hand tools in the beginning. Then we moved to steam, then compressed air, and I suppose it’s more hydraulics now,” he said.

“It’s all pretty neat that our progression spans the industrial age. We’ve lasted over time, and that’s amazing.”

Queen’s Marque will represent an almost $200 million private investment in Nova Scotia by The Armour Group with a target completion date in 2020.