An image of the Shaw's Ice Cream sign outside of their parlour at sunset.

From Small-Town Parlour to Beloved National Brand: Shaw's Ice Cream

From a small-town parlour nearing closed doors to a national brand loved by all who indulge, Shaw’s Ice Cream has served its customers for over 70 years, with many more to come.

A black and white image of a Shaw's Ice Cream Truck.

Founded in 1948 in the heart of St. Thomas, Carl Shaw never anticipated the success of his venture. With slow beginnings in the dairy industry and no ice cream in their product line, Carl received a generous equipment loan to try his hand at production. Little did he know, the introduction of the timeless frozen treat would be his ticket to expansion. It was only a few years later that the grounds where Shaw’s Dairy Bar lives today, became the home to their first ever production plant. As Shaw’s 5 children grew older, they were able to further the business with Shaw’s Dairy Stores – about 40 of them even. Eventually, this piqued the interest of a larger dairy company who had the means to buy them out and take over. With the loss of their partner stores, and a whole plant for only their in-house retail, the same company had their sight set on taking over their provenance as well.
 
As the company made their few remaining wholesale accounts aware of their closing, longstanding Shaw’s account, Dads Ice Cream Shop, was surprised by the news – specifically three sisters who had grown up working in the shop.

A group shot of the women from Shaw's Ince Cream posing in front of the store sign.

After a spur of the moment decision, the three sisters – Kim, Kelly, and Kristine – had found themselves as the new owners of the local ice cream company. As young women on their first entrepreneurial adventure, they each settled into their own facet of the business, respective of their interests and post-secondary education. With Kim leading production and facilitating ingredient procurement, Kelly as the brand ambassador with her hands in sales and marketing, and Kristine as the number’s girl, in charge of the financials, the three had set themselves up for success.
 
Though the 1950’s plant got the women up and running, from 2001 onwards, it has remained their mission to re-grow the operations and breathe new life into both the brand and facility – and we must say, they’ve more than done it! The past 21 years have given Shaw’s Ice Cream a contemporary but retro-inspired re-brand, a well-deserved dairy parlour facelift, a bigger and better production plant, and a multitude of new and returning customers enjoy it all. Kim, Kelly, and Kristine pride themselves on bringing customers the classic dairy bar experience from a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere to a true homage to local.
 
Of course, banding together on recipe development has always been a highlight of the job and it comes as no surprise that it’s become the pinnacle of the business as well! Over the years, the three have never wavered from using only the highest quality ingredients. Shaw’s full-cream ice cream is made from 100% fresh Canadian cream, with the little blue cow on every tub, and using locally produced ingredients as often as possible. Each crazy flavour is the product of their dedication to creativity and surroundings, whether it be Grammy’s Cupboard – an ode to their grandmother’s homemade treats – or summer exclusives like Betty’s Blueberry Cheesecake, using fresh Ontario blueberries and dairy.
 
From cones and cakes to splits and shakes, Shaw’s Dairy Bar remains a tradition for many locals and visitors, whether it be on a visit Port Stanley Beach or a trip in and of itself. For others, Shaw’s Ice Cream can be found in select parlours, eateries, and grocers across Canada.

Pro Tip

If you’re visiting Shaw’s Dairy Bar, try your hand at the Elgin Special – A feast that’s been around since Carl Shaw himself was in the shop! This 1 litre tub of ice cream featuring 5 different scoops of Ice Cream, 3 different toppings, peanuts, whip cream, and a cherry is sure to be a delicious belly buster.

You can visit the dairy bar at:
6598 Sunset Drive
St. Thomas, ON
 
Out of town? Visit Shaw’s first stand-alone retail store at:
100 Kellogg Lane
London, ON
 
Online: https://www.shawsicecream.com/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/shawsicecream/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/shawsicecream

Savour Ontario Kitchen
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Savour Ontario Kitchen

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