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The Himmelman Supply Company was formed in 1923 by Ernest H. Himmelman (b. August 18, 1895 - d. March 21, 1981), and his brother Seth. Ernest had been an inspector at a shoe manufacturing plant in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts but quit so he could return to Nova Scotia and work in the fishing and shipping industries. He married Winnie Wentzell on June 30, 1918 and was appointed Captain of the M/V "Kathleen Creaser" in 1919. Lawrence Himmelman was born on August 17, 1923.
In 1923, Ernest and his brother Seth purchased the "Helen G. MacLean," a 100-ton schooner. In 1926, the company purchased a 100-ton auxiliary schooner and named it "O.K. Service." This was the first of 12 ships that were operated by Himmelman Supply Company as the O.K. Service fleet. Himmelman Supply Company was officially incorporated in Nova Scotia in 1929.
The O.K. Service fleet pioneered the shipping of live lobsters from eastern Nova Scotia ports to Boston in the early 1930s and continued this operation until the mid-1950s when road transportation became feasible. The company shipped freight throughout Atlantic Canada, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. In addition to lobsters, the fleet shipped explosives, molasses, and other commodities from Canada and typically returned with rum and other cargo from southern ports. Vessels were typically purchased with financial support from shareholders and were eventually decommissioned, sold, or lost at sea. See the series description of each vessel for a detailed administrative history.
To help conduct his shipping operation, Ernest Himmelman founded several subsidiary companies, including O.K. Service Shipping Limited, which owned many of the vessels in the O.K. Service fleet, Himmelman Shipping Company, which was involved in chartering ships and ships' agency, and the Oakland Shipping Company, which was also involved in chartering ships and ships' agency. Ernest also operated a general store in LaHave, Nova Scotia. See the series description of these companies for a more detailed administrative history. Ernest's son Lawrence joined him in his business activities, eventually taking over the business operations.
In 1941, Ernest Himmelman began breeding Hereford cattle at his farm. He won national acclaim for the quality of his breeding operation. In 1960, his Hereford bull "Whittern National Velvet" was judged Canada's grand champion at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario. Ernest was appointed president of the Canadian Hereford Association in 1964 and was a member of the Board of Directors for a number of years.
Ernest and Lawrence were active members of the LaHave community, and were involved in the Bridgewater Curling Club, the local school and volunteer departments, the LaHave United Church, and other community groups. They also unsuccessfully attempted to acquire a cable television license.
Competition from larger freight agencies and the small size of the LaHave and Oakland ports made business increasingly difficult in the 1970s. LaHave Shipping Limited sold the M/V "O.K. Service XI" in 1972 and Himmelman Supply Company sold the M/V "O.K. Service X" in 1975. A large ship was purchased in 1975 and named the M/V "O.K. Service," a throwback to the original "O.K. Service" purchased in 1926, but this ship was decommissioned in 1983. The general store in LaHave, Nova Scotia was closed in 1977.
Ernest Himmelman died on March 21, 1981. Lawrence Himmelman continued to act as a shipping agent and broker into the 1980s. O.K. Service Shipping Limited was disbanded in 1985 and Himmelman Shipping Company was finally struck off the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies in 1992. Himmelman Shipping Company was struck off in 2000 and Oakland Shipping Limited was struck off in 2006. LaHave Investments was reorganized in 1989 and still exists as of March, 2010.