Supplying Ice to shacktenters in Waskesiu

In the early days of the Park, Eldon and Fern McLachlan and family operated the Waskesiu Livery Service which catered to the needs of seasonal vacationers. They stored the shack tents and furnishings during the off season. They also supplied the vacationers with ice for the iceboxes in the summer. In order to do this, during the winter, a crew cut, harvested, and stored ice blocks from Waskesiu Lake to deliver and sell in the summer.

Mrs. Fern McLachlan wrote about the ice business in volume two of Waskesiu Memories. A set of three volumes of Waskesiu Memories is available to be read in the Museum.

“Ice was put up in January or February. We had to get a permit from the Park office to take the ice from the lake. Usually an area near the breakwater was the best location to clear and make a roadway. The ice was marked out in squares; cut with a power saw part of the way and then finished off with a cross cut saw by hand. The blocks, between 300 and 500 lbs. were loaded by a jack ladder that carried the blocks up to the truck (flatbed). They were then hauled up to the yard for storage and packed with sawdust between each block. The sawdust had to be hauled from a mill just outsides the South Gate boundary. In all those years only once did someone fall into the frigid water. It didn’t take long to thaw out Grandpa and is his usual good humour, he had a laugh about it and a story to tell.

The ice pile was probably fourteen feet high and those top rows were a job to lower. Johnny Arcand was the ice man for a number of years. His strong arms sawed those huge blocs into 25 lb. blocks (to fit most ice boxes) and then, using tongs, each block was dunked into a water barrel to remove the sawdust. Customers could buy from the ice house but most depended on the ice man. Delivery was every other day, the price was a penny a pound. Our son, Melvin, claims to be the last of the delivery men, as electricity came into the camping area and ice boxes were replaced by electric fridges. The end of an era.”

 

Door-to-door ice delivery011.21

Vacationers in shack tents had no electricity and used ice boxes to chill their perishable food.

McLachlan’s family business delivered a small block of ice for 25 to 50 cents.

If ice was needed, shack tenters would put a small “ice” sign in their window.

 

 

 

Model of Ice storageartifact in the Waskesiu History Museum made and donated by Marvin McLachlan

Model of Ice storage, artifact in the Waskesiu History Museum, made and donated by Marvin McLachlan

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