DO YOU REMEMBER – 20

Hey do you remember buying blocks of ice for your ice chest? Cutting and storing ice used to be a winter activity in preparation for summer.  It was really harvesting ice blocks from a lake and then storing them in an ice house. People did this of course all over Cape Breton before electricity and before it was common to own a refrigerator which really was not so long ago. I remember going into Capt John Arsenault’s ice house where the huge blocks of ice were covered with a layer of sawdust and running around on the ice in summer in my bare feet. It was a great treat for us youngsters especially if we didn’t get caught.

Here is a description of how men used to cut ice from a lake and prepare to bring it back to the ice house.

1

First you scraped snow off the ice surface, then you cut a grid pattern about 2′ each way with a motorized circular saw on an ice plane. Before this device was developed in the 1920s, all work would have been done by hand.

2

Then men used breaking bars and other similar tools to deepen the grooves and ice saws with T-handles to cut to the bottom of the ice. They worked to create a channel of open water for cutting and moving ice blocks.

3

As each block is broken off, it is moved to the end of the open channel and picked up.

 4

Here are some of the ice handling tools.

5

Small ice tongs (18-24″ tall) were common, but it was not unusual to find a pair that was 46″ long x 19″ when closed.

6

A worker is ensuring that the yardstick is well placed.

7

Anyone interested in viewing old tools from a bygone era are invited to contact Jane and Mike at Write to them at  collector@timelesstoolsandtreasures.com

(Pictures courtesy of Hermine Moquin)

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Serita MacLellan on February 4, 2011 at 14:31

    Iremember the “ice man” coming down to my grandmother’s (Ellen Jane MacLellan) house in Alder Point, I was about 7yrs old or about that age, she had an ice chest in the porch where the ice was keep, before she had a fridge. The ice man always gave us a piece of ice, it was better than candy on a hot summer day, those were the days, nary a care in the world!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Nancy Swan on February 11, 2011 at 12:23

    Nice article and pictures~ my mother talked about the ice man coming to cranberry to deliver ice.

    I want to invite all to visit our website and see all the great information and pictures.

    brasdorindianvillagebandassociation.yolasite.com

    Reply

  3. Posted by Elva MacNeil on February 11, 2011 at 12:44

    Picture us kids chasing the ice truck up King St., Sydney Mines today to get the ice chips to suck on. We would wait for the truck tocome every week.

    I have visited the Bras D’or Indian Village Site and found it to be very informative, well put together – a lot of thought went into the preparation.Well done.

    Reply

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