Scattered around Sarnia are the remnants of a building craft that has all but disappeared – beach stone construction.
Round and difficult to stack, beach stones are far from an ideal masonry material. But for Sarnia’s early masons they were easy to find, easy to move and free for the taking.
Chimneys, home foundations, porches and retaining wall made of mortared beach stone – many a century or more old – can still be spotted here and there.
At least one home, since razed on Capel Street, was built entirely of rock hauled up from the beach.
Not surprisingly, the greatest concentration of these relics is close to the Lake Huron shoreline. And the mother lode is probably the west end of Beach Lane.
Residents there say two and possibly three stonemasons built a series of charming walls and pillars that defined the beachside neighbourhood, and some of them are still intact.
The Crocker family – after which adjacent Crocker Lane was named – owned a tract of land there, and old Mr. Crocker was responsible for at least some of the stonework, said resident Bill Oldale, who knows the neighbourhood history.
But determining a date for the handiwork is difficult, however, Oldale said.
“I’m 85, and it was before my time.”