|The Man of Stone|
It takes nature half a billion years to make sandstone. Edward Ratcliffe does it in 14 hours through a process he invented.
His artificial sandstone is sand from the ground at Cambridge, Ontario put under enormous pressure and baked at tremendous heat, just the way nature does it. But, much much faster. It is stronger than the natural product and comes in any colour you want. It's often used to match additions to old sandstone buildings, as well as impressive new structures.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1919, Ed Ratcliffe has led the kind of interesting life that would fill a book. He graduated from Toronto University in
1941 as a chemical engineer, then joined Dupont at Kingston, Ontario where he helped pioneer the production of Nylon in Canada. He left to join
C.I.L. and produced explosives. In 1946 Ed returned to Hamilton and joined his father's construction company. After the war it was difficult acquiring building supplies so he created "angelstone" concrete block which looks like stone.
The process Ed uses to create his new sandstone blocks is much more sophisticated. It stimulates the physical make-up of natural stone so that it strengthens with age. Edward's company called "Arriscraft", located in Cambridge, Ontario supplies new sandstone, as well as very old stone, which he quarries from the Niagara Escarpment to construction sites throughout North America. The continuing reconstruction of the Hartwell Locks along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is just one place you'll find his new sandstone blocks being used. The stone being replaced there was originally installed 140 years ago by the Royal Engineers. This new stone should last even longer.
You will also find his products at the Canadian Embassy in Washington,
D.C. Another Washington location, "The Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial" now under construction, is being built using many tons of Ed's Cambridge product.
You'll notice that many architects are now moving away from the razzle dazzle of steel and glass in favour of the warmth and solid dignity of stone. Much of that movement can be credited to the amazing sandstone invention of Canadian Achiever Edward Ratcliffe.
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