New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Provincial Dairy School at Sussex, New Brunswick, 1900

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From the blog at

Sussex proclaims itself to be the dairy capital of New Brunswick, and the following description of the Provincial Dairy School supports this. The following was written in 1900 by W. Albert Hickman, and is taken from his Hand Book of New Brunswick (Canada) which was commissioned by the Crown Lands Department in Fredericton.

Some of these observations from 1900 seem antique now. They were proud, for example, that their waste disposal system was so efficient flowing, as it did, directly into a nearby stream. Hickman’s description of the local farmers, almost as a superior breed of people, is amusing, although of course appreciated.


A View of the Town of Sussex

From Tourism New Brunswick

The Provincial Dairy School at Sussex, New Brunswick, 1900

To one who wishes to get a fair idea of the extent to which the dairy industry, in this particular section has expanded in the last few years, and also to obtain a look at some of the farmers from the surrounding country, it is only necessary to turn up at the Provincial Dairy School between daylight and sunrise on some fine summer morning. Perhaps before the first rays of the sun have shot over the uplands, clearing the land fogs out of the little valleys and lighting up the feathery elm trees, the first of the long line of waggons, which bring the milk from every direction in the surrounding country, will come clattering down the road, with five or six big cans of milk in behind, and will wheel in under the portico and up to the door where the milk is taken in and where the scales are situated; and almost simultaneously with the arrival of the first waggon, the hum of the engines inside will start, accompanied by the whiz of the separators. In a few minutes, waggons will be seen coming from every direction, and inside the Dairy School, everything will spring into activity. The big cans are passed in and weighed, and then out and into the waggon again, and the man drives around to another door to get his skim-milk and take it off home with him.

Sturdy, sun-burnt, strong looking men they are, with the healthfulness engendered of the northern climate, with its sparkling, clear, cold winters, and its summers full of freshness and free from malaria. They are unlike Americans; they are unlike Englishmen; they are a distinct type, larger than either the former or the latter, temperate, for the most part industrious, and normally God-fearing. Throughout the Maritime Provinces the farmers are hospitable, and as a rule, generous.

In a little while, as we wait, a long row of waggons turn up with their cans of milk, and their respective owners are busy conversing about crop prospects, yacht-racing, horse-racing, or any other subject of local or international interest that may be afloat. The average New Brunswick farmer is intelligent, and, I am thankful to say, becoming more so as time goes on, and that rapidly. He is a great newspaper reader, and takes a keen interest in things both across the water and across the border, as well as in his own country.

In a little time the row of waggons extends three-quarters of the way around the building, covers part of the spacious yard in front of the factory, and the last arrivals occupy positions in the procession which reaches well out into the street beyond. By this time the early birds are getting their cans filled with skim-milk, and are starting again on their way towards home, with the sun hardly half an hour up. Finally, by between eight and nine o’clock the last team is gone, the milk is all skimmed and the creamery is running full blast, with jets of steam puffing out of different orifices, from the churns, and so forth.

To give some idea of a representative New Brunswick factory, I herewith give a few selected portions from the description given of the Provincial Dairy School, in the report of the Department of Agriculture of the Province for 1898. Since then such extensive changes and alterations have been made, that the description no longer applies, for in the interim a cheese-making plant has been installed, and the capacity of the factory generally, very much increased:

“In the winter of 1893-94 a few young men visited the Dominion W inter Dairy Station in Sussex, for the purpose of getting some insight into the factory butter-making business, then being introduced in the Maritime Provinces. The following winter there was a further demand for information, and Prof. J.W. Robertson, Dominion Dairy Commissioner, Arranged that instruction should be given in the Sussex factory during a portion of March and April, 1895. The instructors were — J.E. Hopkins, W.W. Hubbard, and L.A. Zufelt, all of the Dominion Dairy staff. Some fifty students attended the school.”

“In 1896, the school was again reopened with the same instructors and Messrs. John Robertson and Harvey Mitchell of the Provincial Dairy Department. The Provincial government also encouraged the attendance of students from outside Kings County ty paying half of their travelling expenses. This year the number of students increased somewhat on the year before.”

“In 1898 a more extended course was arranged, and as the butter-making business, upon the central creamery plan, was in charge of Mr. H. Mitchell of the Provincial Department of Agriculture. Mr. Mitchell took charge of the school, and was assisted by Mr. J.E. Hopkins of the Dominion Department of Agriculture and Messrs. J. F. Tilley and L.C. Daigle, Provincial Dairy Superintendents. Mr. W.W. Hubbard, Editor of The Cooperative Farmer, also gave a course of lectures upon Animal Husbandry.”

“During this time, the school has been held in a building which was not at all suited to the purpose, and it was felt each year by the instructors that some change should be made. This change came about through the action of the patrons of the factory, who felt that they would prefer to run their factory business on the cooperative plan with a building and plant of their own.”

“The suggestion that the Provincial Government should erect the Dairy School Building was warmly seconded by the Hon. C.H. La Billois, Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Government invited tenders for the erection of a suitable building.”

“When the Provincial Government agreed to erect the building, the associated patrons, under the name of The Sussex Cheese and Butter Company, agreed to provide a site for it and a suitable plant, and now we have, in the combined property at Sussex, the building which is equipped with an up-to-date plant.”

“The building is a neat wooden erection with a covered driveway thirteen feet in width over the milk-receiving platforms, a veranda on the end facing the road, and an ice house, 18 x 18 feet at the back end. The ground floor of the building covers a surface of 55 x 75 feet, the main building being 35 x 75 with a lean-to on the east side, in which the boiler and engine and butter-making machinery are located. Cold storage is fitted up in accordance with the specifications supplied by the Dominion Department of Agriculture. Refrigeration is accomplished by the galvanized cylinder and ice and salt method.”

“On the first floor is a lecture room and a large cheese-curing room with a hoist for lifting cheese from the making room below. The building is steam-heated and finished in natural wood throughout. The floor in the making room is of best quality rifted spruce and cannot splinter. The walls and ceilings are of clear spruce sheathing and finished with oil and varnish. There are roomy wash-rooms and closets, and no effort has been spared to make the building a model of its kind. Steam is furnished by a thirty horse-power boiler, and power from a ten horse-power engine. The churns and butter-workers are of the best makes. A 3,000 pound Alpha DeLaval Separator skims the milk, never leaving enough fat to be read on the special skim-milk bottles of the Babcock test.”

“The cheese-making outfit is now being installed and will be of sufficient capacity to accommodate 20,000 pounds of milk per day. The drainage system from the factory is very complete; a main sewer of vitrified pipe, with various branches, conveys all the waste into the centre of the swiftly-flowing Wards Creek.”

The above description will apply fairly well to the larger of the butter and cheese factories throughout the Province and all, on account of the interest taken in them by the Provincial Government, are rapidly increasing in efficiency.

In 1897 the number of factories to be found throughout the Province was 49, while in 1898 the number had risen to 55. In the former year there were 1,209 farmers taking milk to these factories, while in 1898 the number of patrons had increased to 1,569, an increase of 360 in the single year. The quantity of milk rose from 11,280,067 to 15,838,042 pounds, an increase of 4,557,995 pounds in the same time. The quantity of cheese increased from 1,107,281 pounds to 1,540,418 pounds, an increase of 433,137 pounds in the year. The value of the cheese manufactured in 1897 was $99,633.29, the value of that manufactured in 1898 was $127,053.48, an increase in the value for that year of $27,420.19 or about £5,000 sterling. This is a considerable increase tor what may be considered a new industry. In 1898 the creamery at Sussex had 75 patrons and consumed 1,425,621 pounds of milk, and manufactured 146,322 pounds of cheese, using an average of 9.7 pounds of milk to each pound of cheese manufactured. The cheese sold at 8 cents (about 4d.) per pound.


Written by johnwood1946

October 7, 2015 at 9:29 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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