The Art of ice cutting

Taylor McClure, Special to The Record

Ice cutting is something rare to see these days but just like the snow rollers from back in the day, it was a way for farmers to deal with what the Canadian winter threw their way and to make up for the lack of technology that we see today. We all know that Canada gets a lot of snow, but overwhelming amounts of ice can accompany it and, in some cases, becomes a danger. Despite that being the case, ice was also desperately needed for cooling in the summer months. Ice cutting became the solution. Last week we introduced you to horse drawn-snow rollers, this week we introduce to you the art of ice cutting.
In the late 19th century, ice companies were established across the Eastern Townships. Companies like the Magog River Ice Company and the Public Ice Company in Sherbrooke helped deal with the vast amounts of ice during the winter months by using ice-cutting tools, which in some cases were being pulled by a horse, to break it up and extract it. Ice caused much damage to infrastructure and with enough buildup, blocked the rivers which resulted in flooding. Since refrigerators and electric freezers didn’t exist back then, the companies also made a profit by providing ice as a coolant to keep goods fresh in the summertime.
As we took a look at our archives, it seemed that ice cutting was no easy process. Horse-drawn sleds were used to first clear the ice from any river, lake, or pond of any snow to keep it as pure as possible. See full story in the Monday, Feb. 17 edition of The Record.

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