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March 14, 2014

Christopher Ryan: Staying Cool at Armstrong and McCormick

A weekly feature by Christopher Ryan, a local photographer, blogger and researcher. It appears every Friday on our blog.

177 Armstrong sits empty today. No doubt another entrepreneurial Ottawan can launch another successful venture from here. March 2014.

It may be considered a strength for a neighbourhood to have a number of smaller and relatively inexpensive places for new businesses to hatch. More often than not, these spaces are older and have long since ceased to be used for their original purpose. This diminutive example, located at 177 Armstrong, was most recently the home of Twiss & Weber (now at 1282 Wellington West) and began life as the administrative offices for the Albert Dore Ice Company.

Albert Dore “Your Ice Man” constructed his new office at 177 Armstrong over the winter of 1948-49. Source: Ottawa Journal, March 9, 1949.

It was around this time that Albert and his brother, who had inherited their father Napoleon’s ice and firewood business together, split up and Albert struck out on his own, leaving the firewood behind. At the time, it likely seemed like a good bet. Refrigerators using Freon-12 hadn’t yet become as widespread as they would later be and many of Ottawa’s families were holding on to the old ice box.

Many of us aren’t accustomed to seeing the sale of ice so closely associated with the contents of a refrigerator. At least not to the point where a spread of refrigerated foods are presented on a block of ice. For what it’s worth, the Summer of 1949 was hot. That July averaged 28.8C. Sources: Ottawa Journal, May 21, 1949 and May 26, 1949, http://climate.weather.gc.ca.

While the family business may have occupied the lot for a few decades, the use of 177 Armstrong to sell ice turned out to be a short-term proposition. Although the Iceman, like the Milkman, Breadman, and mobile knife sharpener, was a job with an impending expiry date, it was likely that Dore’s troubles with the Department of National Revenue had some influence on the speed at which he exited the ice business.

Dore was found guilty of several breaches of the Wartime Income Tax Act in May of 1950. The charges covered the years 1941-1948. Source: Ottawa Journal, May 17, 1950.

Dore’s book keeper, John Civin was also found complicit in the tax evasion. Source: Ottawa Journal, May 29, 1950.

In November 1953, Dore took out an ad in the Journal announcing his retirement and thanking his customers for their business. His rolodex, as it was, was transferred to the Ottawa Ice Company at 387 Nicholas.
Dore’s retirement announcement as it appeared in the Journal. Source: Ottawa Journal, December 2, 1953.

-- Original photos & text by Christopher Ryan.
(See more on our blog from Christopher...)

See also: Ottawa HIstory Guide
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