There are still some of us older folks around that recall when they were young kids, they would follow the ice delivery truck around town and get a piece of ice to suck on from the local delivery guy on a hot summer day.
In Southampton, in the 40’s and 50’s, it was usually George Nickel who worked for Trelford Bros., and did home deliveries to many of us that relied on ice boxes and did not have a fridge and then in summer he delivered to the hundreds of cottagers that also relied on an ice box to store perishables. Later, in the 50’s most everyone had refrigerators but for a few years ice could be purchased from Trelford’s, behind the last house on Albert Street before the bridge, where the Ice Store was.
The motivation to write this story kept popping up every time that I would drive up Clarendon St. Once I cross Victoria Street, my head always turns to the left when I pass the first house to check to see if the old foundation of our last ice storage house is still there. And yes, it is. Today it serves as a storage area for construction materials. But the other icehouse that was adjacent to it was taken down quite a few years ago and a fine home was built in its place.
But “Where did the ice come from?” Yes, it did initially come from the little lake in the middle of town, now known as Fairy Lake.
But in the late 1930’s it was determined that the lake’s purity was questionable because of what had gotten into it over the decades. A public health order prohibited harvesting ice from there.
We must remember that there was no sewer system in our town until the 1970’s.
When that necessary order happened, Ice Harvesting switched to Lake Huron and usually out of Horseshoe Bay. When water depths were low, ice was harvested in the lake out front of the bay. When you drive down Huron Street and go past South Street, there was an access off what now is McCannel Lane at the first left turn. The Ice Harvest crews of Trelford Brothers used this location for many years.
And yes, sometime after my 11th birthday, I did get to participate in a few harvests as a block pusher. The work was done on weekends, usually in late February. Men from the furniture factories would take weekend work and be out on the ice doing the cutting and some of us boys would guide the blocks to a loading ramp. The blocks would go onto a flat bed truck and men back at the ice storage houses on Clarendon would unload them. They would be covered with saw dust from our furniture factories to keep the ice cold inside the sheds.
During that time, we had a young aspiring photographer in town named Larry Brown. After WWII his father, Clarke Brown, had built the men’s barber shop on High Street that has recently opened again with a focus on men’s hair. Larry used the basement of his father’s barber shop as his “dark room” in the 1950’s for developing his pictures. I got to share that experience with him.
He donated to our museum, many of his pictures, including some great shots of the Ice Harvest.
Great Memories from a long time ago. Thanks Larry!!
Researched and written by: G. William Streeter