Don Smith

Then and Now – Ice ice baby

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Cornwall Ontario – With these recent temperature fluctuations, we’ve certainly been experiencing a fair deal of outdoor ice and icicles hanging off of roofs, which hearkens to mind related matters.

Not so many years ago commercial ice making was a very different endeavor than nowadays. Prior to the widespread use of automatic home refrigeration, Cornwallites relied upon a mix of nature and human efforts to lengthen the shelf live of perishable foods.

In this Cornwall Canal ice harvest photo, the former Central Park can be seen in the background. Ice was “harvested” from the Cornwall Canal, wrapped in burlap, packed in saw dust and warehoused nearby. At one time horse and buggy went door to door, offering the the lady of the house: “ice today for your box, ma’am?” Our ancestors relied upon ice boxes rather than electric refrigerators. A block of ice might last two or three days, depending upon the ambient temperature.

In the 1930’s, Cain operated the Cornwall Ice. Co. at 19 Amelia Street.

During the late 1950s, Cornwall could obtain “artificial” ice from such outlets as St. Lawrence Artificial Ice at the foot of Augustus Street.

Part II of my Local History classes will begin on March 6th; please check with Encore for details:

Photos courtesy of the SD&G Historical Society

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