The dairy industry has always been an important part of Canada’s economy. Prior to many of the rules and regulations that popped up in Canada over the past several decades, it was up to towns and communities throughout the country to deal with their own dairy needs.
For Cardston, the dairy industry goes back many years. There were many cheese makers, including the Kimball Cheese Factory, which got its start in 1904 at a large two-storey building built near St. Mary’s River. While that cheese factory only operated until about 1918, and the building itself was gone by 1930, there was another important building that supplied dairy to Cardston residents.
It was the Cardston Creamery, and it began thanks to the Cardston Creamery Association. The association started out in 1911 when several businessmen and producers came together to build a creamery. Two plants were built, with the first building being built in June of 1911. It was located near the coulee and managed by H. McIntosh. McIntosh was also appointed as the director, secretary-treasurer and butter-maker on Feb. 11, 1913. He would earn $1,500 per year.
He was very good at his job and the initial venture and investment of $14,000 by the association would grow to be valued at $98,000 over time. He would serve the creamery for the next five years until he decided to start the Chief Mountain Creamery. This creamery operated for a short time before he left for Pincher Creek to continue in the dairy business. McIntosh was replaced by S.W. Low at the Cardston Creamery.
In 1917, it was decided that a new modern creamery would be built. This building began operation on May 1 and was constructed by a company out of Calgary. It was a 72 foot by 80-foot building made of brick that had one of the best cold storage plants in all of Alberta.
During the first 10 months of operation, the creamery was able to produce 241,409 pounds of butter and distributed $106,989 out to farmers. For eight months of 1918, $78,000 was distributed to farmers.
In May of 1918, one year after the construction of the new building, an amalgamation with Mountain View Cheese Factory occurred. This allowed for the production of 14,000 pounds of cheese. In 1918, the creamery association distributed $20,000 worth of fruit, salt and twine for the UFA. The UFA would then make its headquarters the creamery as a result.
By 1920, the Cardston Creamery Association was the largest in the province and they made plans to build silos for farmers if they needed them.
From those early beginnings of a few people coming together to make a creamery association came a highly successful business for the area and one of the most important organizations for the advancement of the Cardston area.
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Information for this column comes from Chief Mountain Country: A History Of Cardston And District