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Ice harvesting on Lake Simcoe was a pretty cool business beginning in the 1890s

By 1892, so much ice was being shipped from the area, it justified the expansion of a rail spur to the water's edge near Belle Ewart
2020-11-03 Innisfil ice harvest
This mechanized ice loader and conveyor was used by the Belle Ewart Ice Company to transport large blocks of ice from Lake Simcoe into ice houses for storage, or directly onto train cars for shipping. Photo courtesy of the Innisfil Historical Society

Before home refrigerators, there were ice boxes and pure Lake Simcoe ice, most likely harvested from Belle Ewart. 

Founded in 1891, the Belle Ewart Ice Company would harvest ice from Lake Simcoe to service demand in Toronto and beyond. By 1892, so much ice was being shipped from the area, it justified the expansion of a rail spur to the water's edge. 

Photos from the Innisfil Historical Society’s archive collection show men loading ice blocks onto a mechanized conveyor belt that would transport the ice to a building for storage, which reportedly used sawdust to preserve the ice through warm summer months. 

“15 lbs. pure Lake Simcoe Ice costs only 6 cents per day,” one advertisement reads. “We deliver it clean and sparkling just where you want it.”

Eventually, as home refrigerators became more commonplace, the need for ice harvesting dwindled. 

By 1954, local residents considered the old ice-storage building in Belle Ewart an eyesore, and petitioned for its demolition. 

Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance

 




About the Author: Shane MacDonald

Shane MacDonald is a Local Journalism Reporter hosted by Simcoe.com
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