Ailsa Craig Murals
The Ailsa Craig Murals are an exciting venture that hope to depict the history of Ailsa Craig. Below you will find some history of the pictures that appear on the murals! The initial mural is located at the corner of Queen and Main on the Variety Store! It is depicted in the mural as a general store! The history of this building is varied, read below to get the rest of the story! The Second mural located on the side of the Drug Store Depicts Ice Harvesting and Logging! There is info below regarding this.
172 Main St
When the railroad bypassed Carlisle, Peter Overholt came here, from Carlisle and built this building at the corner of Queen and Main St. It is double brick and before the advent of air-conditioning, this helped to keep the building cooler in the summer, but with high ceilings was very cold in the winter.
Mr. Overholt was a baker; he had three daughters, Lavina, Adeline and Mary. The daughters carried on a flourishing dressmaking business in this building for years.
The next owners were Mr. & Mrs. Elihu Burrit (E.B.) Smith. Mr. Smith was a Justice of the Piece and had his office in the two front rooms of the building. If you go into the current Variety store, you will see a step up and that is where the dividing wall was. The room to the west was the waiting room and the one on the east side was his office. One wall was covered with bookshelves and books and there was a large wooden desk in here as well. Mr. E.B. Smith was the town clerk for many years.
After Mr. Smith died, Mrs. Smith moved to Windsor and the building was rented. Mr. & Mrs. Ben Nichols and family rented and lived in this building when they moved here from London in 1920. Mrs. Nichols continued on being a dress maker, so once again the village had a seamstress.
When the Smith’s left following E.B’s death the hydro office was located here, and it has been told that in the early days of hydro you could bring a lamp here to have a bulb changed. William (Billy) Hotson ran this hydro shop and looked after billing. He lived at 108 Queen St.
Marion Nichols-Stewart relates stories about living in this building and at that time, which would have been in the 20’s, the upstairs had five big bedrooms, with one closet. The main part of the downstairs consisted of two rooms, a dining room and a parlour. There was a wooden addition on the back which housed a kitchen, summer kitchen, pantry, storeroom and a woodshed. The only heat for the upstairs was a stove pipe from the parlour stove. If the front two rooms were rented then there would be another stovepipe running through to the back, allowing additional heat.
At one time the Nichol’s rented this front to Mrs. Drummond and her daughter Ruth and later to Lyle Stokes who ran a barber shop out of the west room; haircuts were .25 for an adult .15 for a child.
The Nichols moved out in 1937 and sold the building to Stanley Walker who used the building for a garage and a Plymouth car dealership. When he made the building into a garage the verandah and balcony were torn down. You can still see evidence in the brick work on the east side of the building where the garage door was. Stanley sold it to Mitchell Elliot who ran a garage there as well. Mitchell and Mildred Elliott sold it to Merlon Bender in 1965. Merlon completely renovated the building both upstairs and down. For a while he ran a milk bottling plant in the rear of the building, but had to shut it down due to the lack of water. Merlon had come from Wellesley where he was a cheese maker.
In 1970, Merlon started the Pinecrest Variety in the front of the building and it slowly expanded to the point of taking over the entire building, downstairs, by 1976. In 1988 Merlon sold the Variety Store to Steve Mungar, and hence became known as Steve’s variety. The variety store is now run by Jason Kim and family.
Ailsa Craig Town Hall was built in 1906. For many years, it housed the local lock up, an overnight holding cell! There were plays and meetings over the years in the upstairs, which at one time had theater style seating. The lower level has housed the council chambers, library, fire hall and municipal offices. It is now home to Ye Olde Town Hall.
Ailsa Craig Pubblic and Continuation School
This building is no longer standing. It was located along William St from 158 West, and comprised that south side of the block. This building started its life as a frame building, and was somewhat smaller, with additions and brick added to keep it up to date. The school operated from 1874 to 1974. In the early years it started as an Elementary school and then at just before the turn of the previous century, a continuation school was added, classes went to junior matriculation, which was equivalent to grade 12. to get senior matriculation or grade 13 you needed to go to Lucan or Parkhill, which many locals were able to take the train to do!
Current home of the Ailsa Craig Foodland. It was built after the fire to house a grocery store in the west end, a dry goods store in the middle and a butcher shop at the east end. The Oddfellows built this building as a meeting hall and rented the lower level out to pay the bills! In the early thirties when the depression was raging the Oddfellows were no longer able to maintain the building or their lodge and the building was sold to Alex M. Stewart, who continued to rent out to the businesses and ran a dance hall upstairs. The local chapters of the Junior Farmers and Junior Institute met in this location and held many dances in the upstairs hall.
Ailsa Craig was known for many years in the mid to late 19th century, for its log shipping. Elm and Oak were the mainstays of the logs shipped. These logs were squared into timbers and taken to England for ship building.
It has been said that when these logs were brought into town they were large enough to fill one train car. At one point in time, there were natives, who lived in the area, and were hired to assist in loading the logs. It has been said that they would begin to work on the logs as they were unloaded from the wagons, and using saws cross cut saws and broad axes, would have the logs squared by the time they were on the train car!
These forests, along with the railway have now disappeared!.
In days gone by, before refrigeration, it was necessary to use ice, in ice boxes! That was good in the winter when ice was readily, but what to do in the summer!
That is why there was ice harvesting! In the middle of January, when the ice on the river would be the thickest, the horses would be sharp shawed, hitched to the wagon and off to the river. Using a saw, that was much like a cross-cut saw, with only one handle, the ice was cut in 1 foot squares, and loaded on the wagons. In town on the north side near the railroad tracks, was a building, which was built on stilts, to house the ice. The ice was packed with saw dust around all sides, about an inch of sawdust, and then the ice would keep all summer. The ice was sold around town as needed to be used to preserve food, as well as make cool summer treats like ice cream!
The ice house was near the railroad, as ice was used in the ice boxes of the caboose!
With the advent of the refrigerator and freezer, ice harvesting became a memory of the past!
I would think that we would be hard pressed today to find water deep enough or ice thick enough to harvest!