The horses have been replaced by gas and diesel vehicles, and the ice house has become part of the drug store, but the shape of the New Heritage Mall here is just as it was more than 100 years ago. Back then, it was a driving stable with the town’s ice house attached.
The open sheds which once held shoppers’ horses and buggies were the last driving sheds in Almonte. Now the site is a mall of five stores, and even though extensive renovations have changed the appearance of the once-familiar landmark, the owner has strived to retain the atmosphere of the sheds and the ice house. The unit was included in the deal when Gordon Pike bought the IGA store.
The sheds were in the store’s parking lot and were not being utilized, and the ice house had long since held any ice blocks from the Mississippi River. “What I have really done is retain the atmopshere of the sheds. We have even built one store around the ice house.” The drug store has the original four-foot stone walls, the ice house and the Mansford roof design and Grill windows were used to reflect the architecture of another era. Pike had no trouble renting the five store spaces, which are all identified by hand-crafted pine signs made at the Pinecraft Shop across the road from the mall. “There is a real trend back to country living and a relaxed shopping atmosphere.
We have many people drive up from Ottawa who like to shop the small towns where there is personalized service and a country flavor.” Pike said. He said he was able to fill the space so quickly because he offered low rents and free parking. The people of Almonte seem to be delighted with the project. “It’s just what we needed. “I come down every day for tea in the Waterford Tea Room because it has such a cosy atmosphere and seems to suit the old building it has been built around and that I remember so well as a little girl,” one customer commented. Another said: “We loved the old drive sheds, and hated to think of the day they would be torn down. Having them incorporated into the mall has retained that part of Almonte’s flavor, and yet has moved us up with the times.”
Michael Gallagher I used take a block of ice to the O’Brien Theatre for their drink machine. Got into the movies for free.