II-101305 | Machine for Standard Ice Machine & Refrigeration Co., Montreal, QC, 1893

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Machine for Standard Ice Machine & Refrigeration Co., Montreal, QC, 1893
Wm. Notman & Son
1893, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin silver process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , industrial (826) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

It is essential to be able to conserve the fresh produce arriving to the city from faraway lands. People no longer want to eat foods preserved using salt, a method known since antiquity. In any case, too great an intake of salt leads to lack of vitamin C and ultimately to scurvy. One solution to the problem is refrigeration.

In 1850, James Harrison of Australia experiments with freezing foods to preserve them. But it is not until 1880 that machines capable of refrigerating foods are developed.

Refrigerated wagons appear in 1867 and refrigerated ships in 1877. Canadian shipping companies immediately adopt them.

The above machine makes it is possible to get ice at any time of year, which in turn can be used to line the interior walls of wagons and other containers. Being able to refrigerate foods during their transport fosters the economic development of all the regions of Canada - even those furthest from the large industrial centres.

The food is still fresh when it arrives at the grocery store, where it is put on ice and kept even longer.

In Montreal, it is no longer necessary to wait for winter and the freezing of the St. Lawrence River to cut the ice blocks needed for refrigeration.

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    Ice machines are powered by a steam pump. This pump compresses and evaporates ammonia, thus removing heat from the air.

  • Where

    Several of the stands in Maisonneuve Market are equipped with refrigeration after 1914.

  • When

    In the 1870's, the German engineer Karl von Linde invents a household refrigerator powered by a steam engine.

  • Who

    By the end of the century, wealthy Montrealers have now access to fresh bananas. Such luxuries are beyond the means of working-class families who must content themselves with local produce such as apples, which are nonetheless prized for their excellent quality.