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Stonehaven, Stone Quarries

Sandstone cliffs go on forever along the north shore near Stonehaven. Abraham Gesner first described the Clifton Formation of northern New Brunswick in 1842. He assigned the rocks to what he called the “great coal field of New Brunswick.” While coal may not be abundant, sandstone was an important economic resource in the 19th century. In his classic book Acadian Geology Sir William Dawson described the area as having “Large and prosperous quarries of stone, quite equal to that of Joggins”.

The sandstone industry created a lot of jobs, with quarries centered around the community of Stonehaven. The Read Stone Company and its related businesses were involved in the sandstone industry for over a century. Established in Nova Scotia, they opened quarries along the Bay of Chaleurs in 1856. Joseph Read & Company operated quarries along the coast from Grande Anse to Clifton. The quarries became a major supplier of grindstones, scythe stones and sharpening stones. Henry C. Read had quarries in the south of New Brunswick near Sackville.

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The rocks exposed on the shore near Clifton have also yielded beautiful examples of Upper Carboniferous plants. Although first discovered by scientists in the 1800s, Walter Bell from the Geological Survey of Canada published the most complete description of the flora in the mid-1900s. The plants growing here 300 million years ago included the giant lycopod trees Lepidodendron and Sigillaria; seed ferns; and the giant horsetail called Calamites. Remains of animal fossils are rare although fish and tetrapod remains have recently been discovered here.