By an Almonte ‘Native’
To stimulate discussion and relive memories……
Listen! Do you hear that? The distinctive clopping sound of a horse’s hooves as it pulls a milk wagon slowly along the street. You hurry to the window and watch the horse as it pulls then stops, and then continues along the street repeating this routine without a single command of the man in charge. The driver would enter the cart as it rolled along or stopped to fill his container and proceed to houses along the route filling orders placed outside the doors. As a kid in the 1950’s, Saturday was the best because you retrieved your hidden small half pint bottle and 5 cents and purchased fresh chocolate milk (that’s if your brother or sister hadn’t already found it and used it to get their chocolate milk). Two drivers I remember from that time were Mr. Gerry Brown and Ken Waddell. The horse seemed to know just how long to wait at each stop. This practice of house delivery still occurs in Ireland and Scotland today but a truck has replaced the horse and cart.
Two dairies delivered daily (except Sundays) around the town. Strathburn Dairy located at the north end of Malcolm St. in the New England section of town and Metcalfe’s Dairy located on King St. next to present day Naismith School.
Do you remember in winter that if the milk sat too long outside it would freeze and extend upwards pushing the paper top up and out of the bottle? The first thing after bringing the milk inside was to carefully pour the cream that had settled at the top of the bottle into a separate container.
Milk was not the only item brought to your door by horse and cart. Mr. Arnold Newton, who lived on Victoria St. (his horse was kept in the shed in his back yard) delivered bread and goodies (including candy). His horse continued its route in the same manner as the milk horses. Mr. Newton used the Blacksmith services of Mr. H. Finner whose shop was located at the present day site of Blackburn’s Garage. Others used Mr. Hickey’s Blacksmith shop located on Water St. behind today’s Canadian Café. One of the smith’s at Hickey’s was father to Mr. Ted Lemaistre, long time Mayor of Carleton Place.
A stable located on Water St. just south of the Blacksmith shop contained the horses of Mr. Alf Stanley. Mr. Stanley with a helper (in my day a Mr. E. Bandy) collected the garbage using a team of horses and a large wagon. It was really something to witness them carefully place boxes around the perimeter of the wagon to hold the loose material that was placed into the middle on the wagon. They took great pride in the building of their collections. You would never see anything left carelessly behind nor along the street. When the wagon was full it then required a long drive up Martin St. to the Town Dump located off Martin where large communication towers stand today. Mr. Stanley had a system in the dump arranging where items would be placed. His son, Ross, followed his occupation as does his grandson Peter Stanley does today.
Finally we mustn’t forget the iceman. In my day Mr. Hutt with his horse and cart delivered ice to homes where a large block of ice was carried by tongs and placed in the top of an icebox which looked much like a wooden fridge lined with metal on the inside. The concept was that the coolness of the ice would flow over the articles in the icebox and keep them from spoiling too quickly. To make sure that this worked correctly one only opened the doors when absolutely necessary, especially on a hot day. In winter the family kept the icebox in the back shed and didn’t need to purchase much ice, if any, during the coldest months. Very few families in Almonte owned an electric fridge even though they had electricity in their homes. They were just too expensive!
It's just not the same today, is it?