West Lake Brick Factory"In 1914 Buffalo native L.V. Stevens trumpeted the sandbanks as a wonderful natural resource waiting to be exploited. After a visit to West Lake he described himself as 'amazed commercially by the reckless waste of one of the greatest assets that the county contains, the picturesque and valuable sand banks'. He went on to claim that outside the large deposits of Japan, 'ours are the largest sand hills in the world.' Notwithstanding the evidence of deserts in other parts of Asia and Africa, Stevens was able to round up a stable of upper New York State and Welland , Ontario investors to launch the West Lake Brick and Products Company Ltd. in 1914. The purpose of the factory was to assemble the necessary lands at the Sandbanks on which to erect a factory for the production of sand-lime bricks and to excavate local quantities of sand."
Source: Sandbanks Provincial Park - A Cultural Resource Study, 1991 (.pdf)
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Below: The site today... remains of an old brick rail cart and a twisted rail in the artificial panne created by the subsequent cement company operation.
(Note: The area around the rail-cart is covered with poison ivy!)
"Tests were made on the sand, brick making equipment was purchased and moved from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and the factory went into production in 1921. The factory had a capacity to make 48,000 bricks per day and employ 30 men and its isolated position by land was supposed to be rectified by the use of tugs and barges to move the product to markets. However, the sand-lime process became discredited when it was found that if walls were damp, a white powder or scum appeared on the inside of foundation walls constructed of the product. The brick was used for inside brick-laying, being cheaper than clay brick, but a sufficient market could not be found. The last year of operation for the factory was in 1926 and it could not be saved even after a name change in 1927 as the James G. Shepard and Company. Alan R. Capon in Prince Edward County Treasury, (1976) assumed that the factory was buried in its own resource as the sands kept shifting, but the evidence shows that a sub-standard product as the reason for its demise."
Above: County buildings constructed with brick from the West Lake Brick Company include houses in both Picton and Cherry Valley, the now-demolished public school in Cherry Valley, and the Regent Theatre fly tower.