Fairview Historical Society Articles Archives

Dairy Farms

Submitted by Devonna Edwards

Dairies listed in the City Directory for 1909 in the Fairview and surrounding areas:

Bert J. MacDonald – Main Avenue Fairview
Henry (Harry) Deal – 247 Dutch Village Road in Fairview
Peter Keddy – 22 Bayers Road
Woodman Newcombe – 27 Bayers Road
Richard Kidston – 376 Dutch Village Road

Bert MacDonald and Henry (Harry) Deal were two Fairview Dairy Farmers.

Harry’s Dairy Farm was located on the corner of Dutch Village and Bayers Roads. He operated his Dairy Farm on his property for many years, approximately from 1909 until the late 1940s. He called his business Oakfield Dairy.

Bert MacDonald operated his Dairy Farm on Main Avenue. His daughter Evelyn (Essie) told me, that early every morning, before going to school, the MacDonald children all had chores to do. One of their chores was the delivery of milk to the residents of Fairview. After cans of raw milk were loaded onto Horse-drawn wagons, the children travelled through the dirt roads of Fairview doing their deliveries, where they ladled milk into any container the customer offered. Essie said that it wasn’t long before their horse and wagon was replaced by an automobile but the children were still required to help with the deliveries.

Peter Keddy and G.B. Mailing operated a Dairy Farm on Bayers Road for many years. Mr. Keddy operated the Dairy for nearly half a century until his death when his son-in-law G.B. Mailing took over the Dairy Farm. Mr. Keddy owned the largest dairy herd in the city in 1939, he had fifty-two cows During the years he lived there, he watched the northwest section of the city change from a sweep of rolling meadows to a section of fine houses. He envisioned the day when the residential district of the city would press farther outwards occupying the land over which his herd grazed. That would mean the end of cattle herding within the city limits. When that happens the cattleman must sell his herd then or pack up and re-establish himself in the county. As a cattle owner, Mr. Keddy was in a difficult position for he did not own the land where his herd was pastured. Most of the land on which his cattle grazed was rented from real estate companies who leased or rented their vacant areas to the dairymen and therefore it helped to pay the taxes on properties which were awaiting the foundation of new houses.

A part of Mr. Keddy’s stock was pastured on the Airport, a portion of which he rented for the summer. Here a herdsman was employed to prevent cattle from straying on the runways. But this leasing and renting of land for grazing purposes was expensive. Pasturage was good only from about the first of June until the middle of August. After the late summer the pasture feed was augmented with grain and oil cake.

Cost of the rented pastures run into hundreds of dollars. In the summer of 1934 the hay crop in Nova Scotia was poor. Hay had to be imported into the province at fancy prices because dairymen had to continue feeding their cattle and half a hundred cows are too big an investment to lose.

In one year Mr. Keddy’s herds consumed more than 175 tons of hay and not a wisp of it could be grown on his own land. He did not sell his milk on a retail basis and hence did not have the benefit of retail price, however, being close to the center of population allowed him to get a better price for milk because the charges which would ordinarily go for transportation if he lived on a rural district are saved.

Newspaper Article for 1939

G.B. Mailing Dairy Farm at 126 Bayers Road.

With the recent additions to the pastureland leased for the operation of his Dairy Farm, G. B. Mailing now has some 100 acres for his herd of forty cows, not a large farm but the interesting fact is it is within the limits of the City of Halifax.
Mr. Mailing had just installed city water in his barns on the south side of Bayers Road. “Taxes and the purchasing of feed are the two biggest problems in running a farm inside the city,” he said. His 100 acres do not allow for the growth of feed, but are cultivated for pasturage. His heard of cattle is said to be of excellent quality and seem to thrive within the city, where most of their milk is disposed of to one of the leading dealers.

Mr. C.W. Millard also operated a Dairy Farm on Bayers Road on the opposite side of the road from G.B. Mailing.

Newspaper Article dated August 11, 1936

Dairyman Watch Houses Encroach on Farm Holding. While the city creeps ever west and northwards, dairy herds numbering more than 100 head of cattle, within the limits of Halifax graze on the outskirts of the residential districts, not two miles from City Hall. On Bayers Road near where rows of well-kept homes and planned streets end, the scene change to one of open fields, dotted here and there with cattle. Owners wonder just how long it will be before their pasture becomes so valuable for residential purposes that it can no longer be used for grazing. Nor is this the only problem which confronts Peter Keddy and C.W. Millard, the two dairymen who keep scores of cattle in this district.

These men find it impossible to grow enough feed for their cattle on their limited amount of land, but must buy hay and grain in the county and pay transportation charges to the city. In addition to this the city farmer must pay taxed water and sewer rates. Mr. Millard who owns forty Gurney cows keeps his cattle on 100 acres of land in the northwest section of the city known as “The Willow Park District.”

It is during only about three months of the year that the cattle can be kept in pasture without extra feeding. Even then if the hay is poor, short feed must be given the stock to supplement the pasture feed. A few of the minor trouble of the city dairyman begins in the spring. That time brings out a flock of nature lovers, seeking May flowers, who trample down the growing grass and break fences. A few months later they came again for the blueberries which flourish in The Willow Park district and again the standing feed is ground underfoot.

A serious problem of late, to harass the dairyman of this section, is a pack of savage dogs, which attack the herds at night. Mr. Millard pointed to a Heifer which had its leg broken recently when it tried to jump a fence while fleeing from the hounds. Frequently these attacks have driven cattle out on to the road. During the long seven months when the herd is kept in the barns, other expensive feeds must be given. Adding to their expenses includes replacement of equipment such as wagons, harness, and dairy apparatus, also the dairymen contend with bad accounts owing to him.

Keeping a herd of cows is no white collar job and even in the city he rises at 5 o’clock and works until dusk. Sunday is no day of rest, for the cows know no Sabbath, and milk still must be cared for and delivered on Sunday as he markets the milk directly to the consumer. In later years Mr. Millard moved to Brooklyn, NS.

At one time a number of Halifax families, particularly those of means, kept one, or possibly two cows for their private use. They were seen pastured about the open spaces in all parts of the city, including the Common.

Johnson’s Maple Leaf Diary

Avalon D. Johnson started his milk deliveries in Halifax in 1904 where he peddled his milk door to door. He sold 150 quarts of milk a day to local households and founded a family business called Maple Leaf Diary located on 46 Chebucto Road. In 1959 Maple Leaf Dairy expanded its plant by 25 percent. Maple Leaf Dairy had a storefront area where you could buy ice cream and milkshakes. The Dairy ceased operation 1970s. For years all that remained of the Dairy was an old wall which stood on the corner of Duncan Street and Chebucto Lane.

Farmers Limited Located on Windsor Street in Halifax.

Farmers Limited was the first local dairy to pasteurize their raw milk (heated to a specified temperature and time to kill Pathogens). The company formed in 1921-22 by a group of dairy farmers. In 1939 Farmers Ltd invented an automatic bottle washing machine that allowed the cleaning and filling of glass milk bottles. Famers Limited began delivering its products to the Halifax area using four horse-drawn wagons which continued until the mid-1950s when they were replaced by motorized trucks.
By 1961 Farmers Limited expanded to cover almost the entire city block at Windsor and North Streets and processed some 160,000 pounds of milk each weekday. This made Farmers Limited the largest dairy in Eastern Canada.

Farmers Dairy and Maple Leaf Dairy became dominant players in the Halifax market and in the 1950’s Johnson controlled not only Maple Leaf, but also 35% of Farmers as well. Both companies sold bottled whole milk, cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese and flavoured ice cream and sherbet.

In 1961, the dairy farmers who supplied milk to Farmers Limited and Maple Leaf Dairy Limited incorporated a co-operative and negotiated the purchase of both dairies. It was called, Twin Cities Co-operative Dairy Limited, which was named after Halifax and Dartmouth, the new “twin cities” The co-operative assumed the Farmers brand name for all of its produce lines.
In 1983 the firm changed its name to Farmers Co-operative Dairy Limited.

Farmers revived the Nova Scotia cheese industry, opening cheddar factory near Truro in 1966. After expansion during the 1970s, the cheese factory began making powdered milk. They also have a spread plant in Middleton. Farmers was the first dairy in Canada to produce spreads the combined butter with margarine.

In 1975 the company opened its dairy plant in Bedford, replacing the two older plants in Halifax. Situated on ninety acres the new modern plant had computerized controls, fully automated milk processing, plus energy and water conservation systems. Milk graders and dairy lab chemists constantly monitored the product quality. In 1983 ultra-high temperature (UHT) equipment was added to the facility which produced dairy products with a six month unrefrigerated shelf life without the use of chemical additives. They now could add fruit juices as well as milk and was jointly operated by the Farmers and Scotian Gold
co-operatives. With the UHT the dairy products required no refrigeration, shipping and storage was less costly and more efficient.

Farmers remained an independent co-operative headquartered in Halifax until 2013 when they merged with Quebec’s Agropur.

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