Moving The Old Ice House

The Ice House history is an interesting one. Before electricity came to the Island during WWII, farmers who milked cows had a dilemma. They had to keep the milk cool before hauling it by horse and buggy or wagon to one of the two Island cheese factories. Our farming predecessors cut lake ice in the winter in big blocks and stored it in the small building, packed with sawdust to keep the milk cold as the ice melted.

The old wool shed at Topsy Farms

When we took over the farm in 1971, the old ice house with its dirt floor was showing its age. It had become just a place to store stuff too good to throw out. Needing a work shop for machine repair, we poured a concrete floor, put new shingles on the roof and outside walls, insulated the walls, put on new doors, installed electric wire and did some painting. This was our farm work shop and, sometimes, candle-making area.

We eventually built a new work shop and the old building became a place to park our ATVs. In the late ‘90s, the shed became a band room for our youngest teenager, housing his buddy’s drum set, a couple of old amps and older couches with ‘decorations’ to match.

The building’s next incarnation was as a retail outlet for our wool blankets and yarn, our first Wool Shed. It did this job well except for flooding during spring thaws or heavy rain. Situated downhill from the laneway, we had to bail it out a few times.

A few years ago, the road in front of the ice house was widened and the municipality bought the building intending to demolish it. Following our ethics of re-cycling and re-using, we had the building moved south to a new concrete slab where it was reborn as our new office and shipping & receiving facility beside our new Wool Shed.

Moving the old wool shed at topsy farms

It is less than perfectly square so the siding had to compensate. Jake says the end boards, bell-bottom shaped, are just a tribute to the former hippie days.

The new wool shed at topsy farms

7 comments

  • Hi Sally

    I love the history of Topsy. I remember the old Wool Shed and just love the new. We always look forward to our visits for the area and you folks. We have brought family to Topsy to visit and will continue. For tourists to the area, Topsy should be at the top of the list. Best wishes to you all!

    ‘Absolutely devastating’: British lamb farmers fear impact of no-deal Brexit
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/absolutely-devastating-british-lamb-farmers-fear-impact-of-no-deal-brexit-1.5051205

    I thought of you folks after reading this article.

    Cheers
    Simon croteau

    Simon croteau
  • A facinating story! It’s amazing what we don’t know about life before supermarkets.

    Janet Renfrew
  • Didn’t know the Wool Shed had moved, Sally. When last on the island, the road work was happening, but I bought my wonderful Royal and Navy Blue Checkerboard blanket from you at the Wool Shed’s original site. Looking forward to visiting you again (and, hopefully, doing it when your yurt is available to rent :) and seeing the new set up! Love Jake’s comment re: bell-bottom-shaped end boards and your hippie days!

    Maureen Dunphy
  • So cool, I agree. Old buildings are the best. We are trying to move to the country north of Belleville and are hoping to do a lot of “back to the earth” events.

    janice zarglis
  • We discovered your wonderful wool shop a few years ago while renting a cottage on the island. We have two of your beautiful wool blankets of our own and they are our go to wedding gifts as they are all Canadian made and very well priced. We love Amherst Island and always stop at your shop when we go there.

    Marg Althouse

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