The Quarrying of Soapstone

A photo of the Broughton mine in 1927: this photo exemplifies the quarrying techniques used in this mine at the time.

 In an older section of the mine, you can see how the blocks of soapstone were cut.
Each block having to be cut a foot from the previous block gives the wall a stair like effect.

 In 1933 the Cyr family constructed an office building for the company using blocks and lintels of soapstone. The township has been given the building by the previous owners and intend to convert the building into a soapstone museum.


This is the view of the original pit that I visited when I first started buying my stone from them in 1971.

Between 1925 and 1927, a massive steatite horizon was quarried northwest of Saint-Pierre-de-Broughton to produce refractory blocks and pencils to make marks on glass or steel. The quarry is located at the northwestern end of the Pennington sheet At this place, the original serpentinite is almost completely transformed into steatite and talc-carbonate rock

Stone was mined from this quary from 1927 until 2002, when they announced that the quarry was to be closed for good,

 The mine has been quarrying soapstone in different locations for various purposes (powdered talc used, among other things, for asphalt products dusting, joint cement and insecticide dust) since the 1880"s.
The stone is also used as soapstone slabs in the construction of wood stoves.
From this long period of use, the quarry had become so deep that a crane was used to raise the blocks from the depths of the quarry.


 The stone was cut from the wall of the quarry , by drilling a line of holes into the next layer of stone.
The block is then separated along the grain of the stone and raised to the surface by the crane.

 The old pit became to deep and troublesome to operate. With the new pit in operation, the abandoned old quarry has filled with water. A 300 foot deep swimming hole.


 When I first came to the mine in the early 70's, the stone was cut using six foot circular saws. In the 1990's the company had progressed to using a bandsaw.

 These blocks would be cut into thesizes that customers ordered.

 In the storeroom the cut blocks of soapstone are stacked and waiting for a sculptor to turn it into his personal work of art.

The old quary - 2006

The new quarry - 2008

 Les Pierres Stéatites Inc is the only commercial talc mine I know that mine soapstone specificly for sculpture.

  These pictures where taken about ten years ago showing the removal of the blocks of soapstone in the new quarry at that time.


 The stone was cut from the floor of the quarry , by drilling a line around the desired block of stone.
The block will then be separated along the grain of the stone.

 Here you can see them removing the soapstone block by block.

  One of these blocks will weigh about four tons.

  Here are shown some of the tools that were used in separating the stone from the floor of the quarry.
  By cutting the stone from the floor by hand, the mine can supply quality, fracture free blocks of soapstone for carving


  With the new cutting techniques, this what the quarry looks like today.


This is the site of Pierre de Stéatite cutting operations.
770, rang 7 Nord, East Broughton, Quebec, GON 1H0

 Here are a few maps to help you get to the quarry

 New York to Pierres Stéatites Inc

 Boston to Pierres Stéatites Inc

 Atlanta to Pierres Stéatites Inc

 Buffalo to Pierres Stéatites Inc

 Detroit to Pierres Stéatites Inc

 Toronto to Pierres Stéatites Inc

General area to Pierres Stéatites Inc in East Broughton

East Broughton, Quebec





{Showdates Past and Future} {Biography} {Carving Primer} {Introduction to Carving} {Basics of Carving}
{Sources of Soapstone} {Sources for Tools}{Soapstone} {Quarrying Soapstone} {Repairing Soapstone}
{Carve a Loon} {Carve a Polar Bear} {Carve an Eagle} {Carvings on Hand} {Archived Carvings}
{Malvina Hoffman} {Ropey Atsiqtaq} {Links} {Inuit Art Beginnings} {50 years of Inuit Art}