Bay View Creamery
An important industry along the Noel Shore during the latter part of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century (1880 – 1960) was a branch of the farming industry, that of cheese and butter making, the latter being the most successful.
In the early days in many parts of Nova Scotia farming was the chief industry. Many homesteaders coming to the area were issued grants of land. Implements, if any available, were crude and most of the labor was done by hand, but in spite of the hardships they were able to live quite well. Nearly all necessities were raised on the farm, from the soil: hay, grain, vegetables and flax were produced, and from their animals: meat, milk, eggs and wool were produced. Flax fibres were made into linen thread which was woven into cloth, and from the wool yarn was spun and used to make blankets, dresses, socks etc.
Oxen were used on some farms, soon to be replaced by horses and then by tractors. Also modern implements began to be available. The result being many farmers were able to enlarge their farms and their herds of European cattle namely, Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein or Ayrshire or a mixture of these milk producing cattle. Due to this and the improved methods coming into use the result was excess cream and milk on their hands and it became necessary to look after this excess and at the same time make extra income.
Around the province farmers as early as 1865 had met and cooperatively became involved in buying feed and seeds in bulk to be purchased by farmers for his own use at a reduced rate. Some groups also bought better breeding stocks if male animals of which farmers could use the services for a small fee thus upgrading their own stock. This co-operative idea was introduced in the Noel Shore area about 1866. In 1880 a Farmers Club was operational for about 15 years in serving the farmers.
Next came the setting up of cheese factories in the different areas of the province, cheese being made in the summer months only with factories remaining closed in the winter months. Cheese is a solid food very high in protein content, the chief one being casein (ka’ sen, ka’se in) which is insoluble and forms the basis in cheese. Cheese making to put it simply is curds and whey, curds being the smooth thickened part of sour milk and whey is the watery part of milk left when curds have been formed and separated.
From “A History of the Noel Shore” quote: “In 1893 a cooperatively owned Cheese factory was opened in East Noel as the farmers needed an outlet for the cream produced by their improved herds. The first President was Jacob Miller. The farmers returns were small by today’s standards – 65¢ for 100 lbs”.
Betty O’Toole has a notebook which belonged to her Mother, Mrs. Rex MacKeil – and here are some notes from that notebook:
Mar 20, 1893 East Noel Farmers met – their objective was to form a cooperative to build, equip and work a
Oct 9, 1893 Meeting of Directors of East Noel Butter and Cheese Factory.
Apr 9, 1894 Blizzard – roads closed – meeting cancelled.
Apr 24, 1894 Cheese Factory meeting in East Noel.
Feb 15, 1895 Meeting of Directors to discuss adding butter making to the cheese factory.
June 25, 1895 Directors of the Cheese Factory raised $700 by jointly signing a note.
East Noel – Shares were sold, cash was paid for milk: for example:
1592 lbs $7.92*
1278 lbs $6.39*
* about 50¢ per hundred
The Cheese Factory was built along the brook or river behind Bernard Densmore's. Their original house was back behind the ones out near the road – opposite the East Noel Church. When it closed I am not sure. It is interesting to note that most of not all these small cheese factories were built by a brook. Butter factories were built, then replaced the cheese factories, some of which had made butter on a small scale in the winter months.
From the “ A History of Noel Shore” – “A creamery for making butter was built and opened by Captain James Crowe in Lower Selma in 1903. This creamery failed but re-opened in 1913 as a Farmers Co-operative and was called “Bay View Creamery”. The first President was Andrew Anthony. They also assisted with the buying of flour and feed. In 1946 it became “Bay View Creamery Co-operative” and in 1950 they joined the Brooklyn Co-operative. The creamery flourished until 1955. By this time large milk producers in the area were selling their milk in Halifax and thus it became uneconomical to operate the creamery. Member's shares were redeemed or transferred to the Noel Co-op. The old creamery building is still standing on property owned by Leonard Green”.
Other creameries in the province: Mr. I. David Blaikie built and began operating the Great Village Creamery in 1885, making cheese in summer and closing in winter for the first two years then making cheese in the summer and butter in the winter. In 1906 he began making butter all year. In 1920 Mr. Blaikie purchased the Economy, Bass River and Folly creameries.
Thomas D. Murray was butter maker in 1944. Mr. I. David Blaikie sold the Great Village Creamery to Kenneth Blaikie. In 1959 he sold it to Thomas A. Johnson. I have no date for its closing.
The Brookfield Creamery was formed in 1894 when a group of Brookfield/Middle Stewiacke area farmers got together and made plans to process and market their cream and milk. The original Brookfield company building was built at a cost of $725 and was located near the brook in the village of Brookfield. In 1901 the company hired R.B. MacLennan as Manager/Butter maker. In 1904 MacLennan and Harlan Cox (then bookkeeper) purchased the company shares and in 1907 on Mr. Cox’s death R.B. MacLennan purchased his shares and became the sole owner. From that time until the business was sold to Scotsburn in 1972 ownership remained in the MacLennan family. Beside managing the business, in 1917 R.B. MacLennan was offered and accepted the part of Inspector of Creameries for the N.S. Department of Agriculture. In that capacity he visited the Agricultural Colleges in Kingston and in Guelph Ontario, and learned about the new technologies in cream neutralization and moisture control in the manufacture of butter. He provided this information to other creameries in the province. (These techniques along with other courses, followed by exams would be, I assume, what Erma Hilchie, Bun Hennigar and Stan Miller experienced while at Guelph on a three month butter making course each at different years). In 1920 due to expanding markets, larger facilities were required, they needed access to a main railway terminal to accommodate the incoming cream and the shipments of butter, so new premises were built. It remained on Walker Street until a further expansion was made in the Industrial Park here in Truro.
In the late 19th century the Musquodoboit Creamery was established. The enterprise failed four times before Henry Beck took over management in 1917. In 1930 the creamery was sold to Brookfield Creamery Company and in 1961 the Musquodoboit Valley Creamery was closed.
The Tatamagouche Creamery operated from 1925-1992 with over a thousand local farms who supplied milk and cream to the creamery.
The early years of the creamery were not easy ones. Some of the equipment was not new and was in poor shape. The markets were unsteady. But following World War I there were technological developments that made for much improvement causing the industry to progress quite rapidly.
In preparation for shipping the farmers had few ways to separate the cream: by skimming cream which comes to the top after the milk stands for a time, or by putting the milk in a can-like container with a glass gauge on it, by reading the gauge one knew when it was time to drain off the skim milk leaving the cream to be put into the can for shipment. So the development of the hand separator was certainly a boom.
Cream was gathered and delivered to the creamery by team and sleds or wagons. Conditions varied for the driver and for the team. Much cold and snow blocked roads in winter, very hot conditions which could affect the cream were endured in the summer and one must not forget the very muddy roads in spring.
When the trucks came into use in the 1930’s it made for much better conditions in gathering and delivering the cream and also meant a much wider geographical area could be covered.
Pasteurization coming into more widespread use greatly improved the keeping quality and the flavour of dairy products.
Areas covered for the Bay View Creamery were from Urbania to Lower Selmah, from Cheverie and a few points beyond, from Northfield, Noel Road, Kennetcook, from Rawdon, Nine Mile River, from Gays River, MacPhees Corner. Albro Miller, Norman Miller, Stanley Miller, Doug Miller, Carl Tomlinson, Lawrence Scott, Jim Rose etc., provided transportation.
The managers are listed thus: Captain Jim Crowe, Bruce H. Power, Emerson Clark, Ernest Hilchie, Bun Hennigar and Eldridge Densmore.
Betty O’Toole has a letterhead thus:
Seymore Main President
Ernest Hilchie Secretary
Bay View Creamery Company Ltd.
Manufacturers of Pasteurized Creamery Butter
From a butter wrapper placed in the Lower Selmah Museum by Ruth Main:
“Bay View Pasteurized Creamery Butter is manufactured by Hants County Co-op Services Ltd. Selma, Hants County, N.S. 1lb net weight.”
As in any business there was a President, Secretary and a Board of Directors. Some names - George Rose Sr., Seymore Main, James Main, Ervin Densmore, Erin Main, Rex McKeil etc.
The name Davison – Fraser, Halifax came up in some conversations I had. They were wholesalers and that was probably one of the outlets for butter. Also Davison's two daughters were married and lived in the area. One was married to Stan Lockhart and one to Emerson Clark – a manager of the Bay View Creamery. Clarks lived in the big house built by Captain James Crowe when he built the creamery. Other families later lived in the house which along with the original property was sold several times, but the families had no connection with the creamery.
When the cream arrived at the creamery, the driver unloaded the cans. If he had someone on the run with him he had assistance. The cans were placed inside the big doorway. Each farmer sent anywhere from one to ten cans depending on the size of his herd. A large scale just right off the door was used to weigh each farmer’s cream. Each farmer had a registered number and the can or cans having that number were weighed on a double tag, each containing the number and the weight. One tag was for the office and one was returned to the farmer in his can.
Left of the door on the wall were several small shelves, one above the other containing many bottles each about four inches high and about half pint size. Each bottle had a number painted on it which matched the farmers registered number. Following the weighing of the cream a paddle was used to stir the cream and a very small sample was taken and placed in the bottle with the matching number. If there was more than one can, the sample was made up of dips in each can. A small pill was put in each bottle this was to prevent the cream from souring (it also coloured it red). This procedure went on each delivery made between pay periods which was approximately every two weeks. The pay was determined according to two things - the butter fat content and the total weight. The “Babcock Test” was done to determine the butterfat content. There was variation on the test results. A few had a high test of 40, the cream being very heavy and a bit difficult to empty out of the can. A few tested low perhaps in the teens and the most were in the average range 25 – 35.
Pay was by cheque and would be picked up at the creamery or be mailed, or put in the cream can.
The second set of bottles were placed on the shelf ready for the next two week period. By that time the previous bottles were washed in a large sink and sterilized after the contents had been disposed of down the drain and would again be ready for use.
When the weighing and the test samples were completed the cans were emptied into one of two vats. Each vat held a bit over two tons of cream. To fully empty each can it was placed over a post like apparatus that let in a small amount of steam causing the rest of the cream to come out to a catch pan that had a spout like a separation spout that led to a container which when full was emptied into the vats. The can was then taken over to the big washing sink on the wall (next to the outside steps) where it was washed inside and out with a big brush and then steamed again over an outlet by the sink to purify it. A tap was turned on overhead to allow the small amount of steam from the boiler to feed both outlets. The cans were then ready for pick-up - some drivers picked up the cans and returned them the same day. With several workers this procedure from full cans arriving to empty cans returning didn’t take too long. The tag showing the weight was placed in the can. If a farmer wanted butter he placed a paper with the order under the edge of the cover and the amount ordered was placed in the can and paid for from his cream cheque.
Periodically the cans needed to be painted (a section) near the top and the farmers name and number redone. There were different size cans (25, 40, 50, 80 lb cans) and they were the responsibility of the shipper. For example, Erin Miller #444, Lloyd Rose #222, Jim Main #57.
Watson Smith and son Harry Smith were tins smiths in Shubenacadie who made 60,000 cans in a 65 year period and supplied all creameries in Nova Scotia. Business started in 1894.
The cream in the stainless steel vats was heated to around 160° and held at that temperature for 30 minutes. A huge stainless steel coil inside the vat was set in motion when the belt coming down from the pulley on the steam driven shaft near the ceiling to the smaller shaft at the vat, was shifted from the idler pulley over to the other pulley on the same shaft. This process pasteurized the cream.
Louis Pasteur, a 19th century bacteriologist, in his research showed that fermentation of milk was due to the multiplication of bacteria and other microorganisms. Pasteurization is a process which renders milk free of disease producing bacteria and helps prevent it from spoiling without destroying the vitamins or changing the taste. After new technologies in cream neutralization came about, a neutralizer powder was used. An amount of powder was mixed with water and allowed to drip slowly into the cream when it was first being heated, a can with holes in the bottom was suspended inside the cover. The amount of powder used depended on room temperature, and whether or not the vat was ½, ¾ or full of cream.
When the temperature reached 160 degrees (about ¾ hour) the steam valve was shut off, but hot water continued to circulate from the barrel- type container and kept the coil in motion. At the end of thirty minutes the hot water was shut off and cold water directly from the well was circulated through the coils to the container, with any excess going out the overflow to the drain. To further cool it, ice was crushed and put in the container with the water and the ice-cooled water went through the coils.
They could do two vats of cream at the same time but usually did one. The pasteurized cream was pumped to churn. It could stay in the vat over night and be churned the next day.
Cleaning the vat and the coils was done by filling the vat about half full of water and detergent. Then hot water running through the coils kept the water heated and heavy brushes were used to clean the coils while they were in motion. The stainless steel vat was easy to clean. The water was drained, the vat was rinsed, the belt put back on the idler side of the shaft, and the vats were ready for use again.
There was a stationery pump which was on a ledge above one of the vats. It was used for two things - to pump the cream from the vat to the churn, and to pump the buttermilk to a tank upstairs from the churn. Stainless steel pipe was used and the pipe and pump had to be washed and kept sterilized. The cream was pumped to the churn which was like a barrel on its side. It was made of hardwood with straps around it and was about 9 feet long and 5 feet in diameter.
Some water was swished into the vat thus allowing all possible cream to be pumped out. The churn had to be prepared to receive the pasteurized cream. It was scalded with boiling hot water then cooled with cold water thus sterilizing it. If any colour had to be added it was done now. Usually in summer colouring was not needed. With the cream in the churn it was set in motion by releasing a clutch-like lever, causing the ever running water to turn the shaft and roll the churn. In the older churns there were four rollers running lengthwise that rolled back and forth. The rollers had been removed and replaced with wooden fins attached to the sides. There was a glass gauge on the end of the churn through which one could watch for the breaking of the cream (turning to butter). When there was one large lump of butter (usually in 20 to 30 minutes) the churn was stopped. The buttermilk was pumped off upstairs to a holding tank. This had to be drained and taken away, sometimes twice a day, by the person or persons who had the contract for removal. Again some water was swished in the churn to wash the butter and to further flush out the buttermilk. Then enough cold water to cover the butter was added and the churn was run from 3 to 5 minutes. That was drained out into the gutter. Salt was then added - approximately 2 ½ lbs to 100 lbs of butter. The churn was run again about 5 minutes, tests were taken to see how much moisture there was in the butter and if necessary, more water was worked in to get to the allowable amount of moisture-16%. Cream had to be the right temperature when churning - if too cold the butter would be brittle and if too warm butter would be greasy. A paddle was used to scoop the butter out and onto the hardwood table ready to be printed in 2 lb prints, and wrapped, then packed in cartons, 60 lbs to a carton and taken immediately into the cooler. Three or four churnings could be done a day. The wrappers were soaked in formaldehyde solution for 30 minutes before use in order to disinfect them.
Doug Neil was the first butter maker. Possibly someone from Blaikies Creamery, maybe Doug Bowers came over and taught Doug Neil. Whoever came lived for a while in the house in Lr. Selma where Bun Hennigar lived. Victor Hennigar lives there now and he taught the butter making skills to Doug. Ernest Hilchie, Bun Hennigar and Stan Miller each took a 3 month butter making course at the Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario at different times. They were qualified butter makers.
Some people who worked at the creamery besides the managers and butter makers were Martel Hennigar, Marven Sutherland, Thompson Densmore, and Guy Faulkner. During the summers in war years some students who worked there were Norma Miller and Pauline Faulkner. Bookkeepers at times were Lloyd Clark, Ernest Hilchie, Bun Hennigar, Polly Faulkner, and Gertrude Pratt. An office was built upstairs and steps on the west side facing Lr. Selma led up to that office. July was the month for the most cream intake and the most butter per day was produced mainly because of the good pastures.
Steam power was used until the late 30’s when electricity came to the area. The boiler room was at the back of the creamery. The boiler itself was sitting on brick and was enclosed in brick about half way up. It consisted of a fire box where 4’ lengths of wood bought from the farmers provided the heat. The top part was kept filled with water from the 2 wells on the property and was fed into this tank by an injector. A glass gauge on the side showed the level. In the tank were 50 tubes - each 1 ½ inches in diameter through which smoke and heat went up the back of the boiler, through the tubes and out the stack at the front heating the water. The steam pressure was fed to a medium sized steam engine sitting by the boiler which in turn provided the power to run the equipment. Steam also was piped through the creamery to provide a continuous supply of hot water and to areas where needed for steaming cans and sterilizing.
The refrigeration system was at the east end of the building. A great deal of ice was needed to cool the storage room for the butter and to be available to be crushed and used for the cooling the cream in the vats. Tenders were called every fall for ice which was cut at the Maitland millpond and transported to the creamery and deposited into the rooms through window-like openings which can still be seen at the end of the building. A six inch space around the ice was filled with sawdust to insulate test room and cooler rooms.
Butter was shipped to Canada Packers and Davison-Frasers wholesalers in Halifax, as well as to Hedley O’Brien’s, and other stores is Halifax. The local drivers carried butter for customers and cartons to fill store orders on their route. Butter was loaded directly from the cooler through an opening in the front part of the cooler to the conveyance outside.
Changes were made when electricity became available. The steam engine became idle, but because the boiler was still needed to provide hot water and steam to some areas, electric motors were installed. The one on the churn e.g. was quite large. Cyril Parks, Murray Roulston, and Charlie Christenson did the wiring and Doug Jennings installed the electrical unit in the cooler.
Borden’s Truro had a milk route down the shore during the war and their prices were about even with the butter-fat prices. When the bigger milk routes came into being the price paid for milk was above the butter-fat price so a good many farmers changed to shipping milk. In the late 40’s the creamery had a truck of its own which could look after the diminishing number of farmers sending cream. With the decline it became uneconomical to run and so the creamery ceased operating in 1955.
Over the years the creamery had provided employment and income for many people - those working at the creamery, the teamsters, the truckers, the farmers, those involved in providing the ice and wood, and indirectly veterinarians, agricultural representatives, inspectors, machinery dealers and suppliers, tinsmiths, servicers - one could go on. We think of it as an end of an era.
- Kate Robson