A few weeks ago I wrote about Mrs. Lowney who lived near Bishop’s Quarry who was recorded in the Ottawa Daily Citizen that her cows would not give milk because someone working in Bishop’s Quarry had the “evil eye”. It seemed to be the norm on those days as those that hailed from Ireland in the 1800s brought over their beliefs in hexes and the dreaded evil eye.
Catherine Lowney, a widow, who lived near Bishop’s Quarry, attributed fear of the “evil eye” on her property because her cows would not give milk, even though it was the height of the milking season. Of course one would think there was a very logical explanation of the absence of milk from Mrs. Lowney’s cows, or was there?
At that period (1860s) stone for the Parliament Buildings was being quarried near Mrs. Lowney’s house and many strangers were employed in Bishop’s Quarry in Nepean. So when gossip starts you know that maybe thirsty strangers from the quarry sneaking into her farm and milking her cows would be a valid excuse. Of course she failed to see anything but some bewitching Hocus Pocus taking root in the neighbourhood. Her belief held firm that a certain neighbor or quarry worker possessed the “evil eye’ and was getting back at her for some imagined wrong. We all know how that goes.
Of course my interest wheel piqued to HOT and I began to wonder where the former Bishop’s Quarry was. As I searched for information I came across Bruce Deachman’s article in the Ottawa Citizen. Q is for Quarry: Forgotten, overgrown quarry provided the building blocks of Ottawa
Since I could find nothing about Bishop’s Quarry I somehow knew after reading his article that this forgotten Campbell’s Quarry in Nepean was one and the same. Campbells quarry closed in 1962, when the National Capital Commission expropriated the land for the Greenbelt. Situated right beside Highway 417, just west of Moodie Drive, lie overgrown remains of the former Bishop’s/Campbell’s Quarry that supplied building material for the Parliament Buildings, the Dominion Observatory and the Canadian Museum of Nature.
(We love comments and input–this from Tim Cartwright)
(Tim Cartwright Campbell’s quarry is not the site directly beside the 417. It still exists within the property of Natural Resources off of Haanel Dr. This is why they objected to having it reopened in more recent times.
So, just to make sure I wasn’t going in the wrong direction and steer my readers into reading a fish tale I contacted my historian friend Jaan Kolk. Actually it’s more of a Facebook ‘pity” PM that begins with: “JJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAn, can you help me please”?
Yes Linda, it must be Bishop’s quarry to which Bruce Deachman refers. Henry Bishop owned 200 acres of farm land with a stone quarry: Lot 6, Conc. II OF. The 1879 Belden Atlas shows his house and “white sand stone quarry” on the south side of Corkstown Road, about midway between Moodie Drive and Eagleson. The Canadian County Digital Atlas Project gives the year settled as 1821.
The 1965 aerial photo layer at GeoOttawa shows the bright scars of what looks like quarrying on both sides of Corkstown Road about 2 km west of Moodie (halfway between Moodie and Eagleson.) Zoomed in, one can see a road along the strip stretching south. Google maps shows traces of the same features, and shows the pathway identified as Greenbelt Pathway W. / Trans-Canada Trail. I believe the Citizen photo is of the area in the woods where the trail bends south away from the Queensway. That was Henry Bishop’s quarry in 1861; the quarries north of Corkstown would have been Keefer’s. Campbell began operations on that extended sandstone ridge in 1916, and shut down when it was bought out by the NCC about 1962. I can’t say exactly where they were operating then; there appears to have been a second roadway into that general area from Hazeldean Road
Henry Bishop’s was not the only stone quarry in the area, and may not have been the biggest supplier of stone for the Parliament Buildings. In “The City Beyond”, Bruce Elliott writes: “In the spring of 1861 nearly a hundred quarrymen and stonecutters were boarding in and about Bells Corners. Henry Bishop boarded about 30 of the quarrymen who were working at Keefer’s quarry on the Corkstown Road. He also ran a tavern, which he came to regret because of the insobriety of some of the workmen.
Nevertheless, his fine stone house was built with the profits. Maps show A. Keefer as part-owner of the lot on the north side of the Corkstown Road, directly across from Bishop’s. Elsewhere, Elliott notes that fine stone house (“Bishop’s Palace”) was built with stone from Bishop’s own quarry.
Actually, it was recorded in the History of the Ottawa Valley that Mr. Henry, father of Mr. Bishop of Wellington Street had a fine place, Bishop’s Palace. Their sandstone quarries out which much of the ‘decoration’ of the parliament buildings of the city was produced was located between Courtney’s and Pollock’s.
The Irishmen like Henry Bishop’s family who founded Nepean’s Corkstown not long afterwards are believed to have started settling there as early as the 1840s. It became a substantial community, partly due to the flourishing quarry works established nearby that employed as many as 100 men at a time, and provided much of the fine Nepean sandstone used in the first Parliament Buildings.
These men had many hardships to deal with, and one of the first houses along the old Corkstown Road was soon turned into a tavern where the weary workers could raise their flagging spirits. Henry Bishop owned it, and his comfort station was known far and wide as the Bishop’s Palace.
The two-storey stone structure, built in 1861 was known before, the turn of the century as “Bishop’s Palace” when it served as an inn for travellers, area farmers and workers from nearby Nepean Sandstone Quarries.
In April of 1966 National Capital Commission awarded a contract to Alfred Beaulne Construction for the demolition of Bishop’s Palace on the south side of Corkstown Road. It had also served as a private residence from the early 1900s until 1938 when it was acquired by NCC. News of impending demolition was greeted with “regrets and resignation’ ‘by Nepean Township Historical Society.
In an odd note, maybe there was a hex of some sort in that area near the quarry. Today, Campbell’s/ Bishop’s Quarry now sits abandoned, and years ago it stopped being able to provide sandstone. According to Deachman’s article on the abandoned Campbell/ Bishop’s Quarry-” repairs to the generally neglected stonework of the Museum of Nature required many tons of replacement sandstone (approximately five per cent of the museum’s stone had to be replaced), architect Barry Padolsky and the Department of Public Works attempted to have the quarry re-opened. Their efforts ultimately failed, however, when Natural Resources Canada objected, noting that the heavy machinery needed for the quarry would throw off the calibration of the instruments at their research laboratory adjacent to the quarry.” (Q is for Quarry)
What was once a historical workplace for 100s of men now fades into the sandstone so to speak. So thanks to Jaan Kolk for his help– another historical area like the Pure Spring Ginger Ale water spring is documented for generations to come.
Pointing to the sandstone buildings around us, some of which had stood there for several hundreds of years, she commented on how old everything in Oxford looked. Can’t they afford anything new? she asked earnestly.”-In the Light of What We Know
Henry Bishop 1880s- Legislature of the Province of Ontario Descriptive Catalogue of Ontario Minerals
Campbell's Quarry--Archie Campbell
Q is for Quarry: Forgotten, overgrown quarry provided the building blocks of Ottawa
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