TOUR STOP 5: Horse Racing and Ice Cutting on the Bay

Horse Races on the Ice

Before there were fast cars there were fast horses. Horse owners boasted of their steeds’ speed and horse races were a popular form of entertainment. During the winter horse races were held on lakes wherever there was good ice with a light cover of snow. Such races were regularly held between Haskin’s Point and Brass Point  Bridge where there was a good expanse of ice. Notices for these races appeared in both American and Canadian newspapers.

Horse races did not draw universal approval; they were often held on Sunday and there was always wagering involved along with the consumption of liquor. Several  young men were expelled from the Methodist congregation in Seeley’s Bay for attending the ice races.

On one notable occasion in April 1885 the liquor inspector for Leeds attended the races and attempted to confiscate the liquor being sold at a stand but was prevented from doing so and was roughed up in the process. It was claimed that the liquor stand was out of his jurisdiction because it was in Pittsburg Township. The matter was resolved before a magistrate in that jurisdiction.

Before there were refrigerators there were iceboxes to maintain cool temperatures for perishable foodstuffs. Households that had iceboxes relied on a local icehouse for their supply of ice which was harvested in February and March when the lakes had developed a thick layer of ice.

In the nineteenth century ice was cut into blocks using a long saw with a handle on one end; the blocks were loaded on sleighs to be taken to the ice house where they were packed with sawdust. By the 1920s saws driven by internal combustion engines were used to cut the ice blocks. Some businesses – butchers and cheese factories, had their own ice houses to provide ice to keep products cool during the summer.

A cubic foot of ice weighs about 55 lbs and a block of ice normally weighed over 150 lbs. Blocks were handled with a large set of iron tongs used to drag the blocks. Anyone handling blocks of ice quickly learned to keep their feet clear of the blocks.

Seeley's Bay Heritage Walking Tour - 130 Mill Street
  1. TOUR STOP 2: Seeley's Bay Wharf and the Rideau Queen - 130 Mill St.
  2. TOUR STOP 3: Seeley's Bay Saw Mill (Hartley's) - 136 Mill St.
  3. TOUR STOP 4: The Plane Crash - 130 Mill St.
  4. TOUR STOP 5: Horse Racing and Ice Cutting on the Bay
  5. TOUR STOP 6: The Dr. Christie House - 148 Mill St.
  6. TOUR STOP 7: The National Hotel - 160 Main St.
  7. TOUR STOP 8: The Brown House- Bootlegger - 179 Main St.
  8. TOUR STOP 9: Home of John Bracken - 172 Main St.
  9. TOUR STOP 10: The Hotchkiss House Murder - 196 Main St.
  10. TOUR STOP 11: Coleman's Hotel - 152 Main St.
  11. TOUR STOP 12: Dr. Gardiner House- presently Ridgway Confections - 159 Main St.
  12. TOUR STOP 13: The Bank - 148 Main St.
  13. TOUR STOP 14: Stage Coach Depot/ George Cheetham's Blacksmith Shop - 103 Bracken St.
  14. TOUR STOP 15: Kelly’s Fresh Mart formerly Sweets - 144 Main St.
  15. TOUR STOP 16: St. Peter's Anglican Church - 155 Main St.
  16. TOUR STOP 17: Dr. Bowen's House -145 Main Street
  17. TOUR STOP 18: Seeley's Bay Masonic Hall - 108 Adelaide St.
  18. TOUR STOP 19: Seeley's Bay United Church - 129 Hellen St.
  19. TOUR STOP 20 - A. Neal and Son, Brick and Tile Co. Circa 1900 - 109 Hellen St.
  20. TOUR STOP 21: A.J. Sly's Furniture and Undertaking - 140 Main St.
  21. TOUR STOP 22: Gilbert Carriage Works - 129 Main St.
  22. TOUR STOP 23: Gilt Edge Cheese Factory - 118 Main St.
  23. TOUR STOP 24: Sunny Acres- The Ashery - 119 Haskins Point Rd.
  24. TOUR STOP 25: Haskins Point - 148 Haskins Point Rd.