This is a letter and manuscript in the Perth Museum research files.
Transcribed by Charles Dobie.
DAIRY PRODUCTS DIVISION
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
CELEBRATION AT PERTH, ONTARIO, 23RD OCTOBER, 1943,
TO COMMEMORATE THE MANUFACTURE AND SHIPMENT
OF THE MAMMOTH CHEESE.
The Cheese Producer’s Association of Lanark County organized an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the shipment of the Mammoth Cheese from Perth, Ontario, to the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. A replica, in concrete, of the cheese had been made and placed on a pedestal on the grounds of the Canadian Pacific Railway adjacent to the Perth railway station. The replica of the cheese was officially unveiled on the 23rd of October, 1943, by Dr. J. A. Ruddick who in 1892 had charge of the pressing of the curd into the Mammoth Cheese and who in 1893 supervised loading and shipment of the cheese to Chicago as well as the unloading of the cheese at Chicago, placing it in one of the Exposition buildings and later shipping it to England.
The celebration at Perth on the 23rd of October was attended by many people from Lanark and adjacent counties and also by several who had come considerable distances.
At the request of Mr. M. M. Knowles, Lanark, Ontario, and of Mr. J. G. Korry, Perth, Ontario, President and Secretary respectively of the Lanark County Cheese Producers’ Association, Dr. Ruddick prepared for distribution the attached statement with reference to the Mammoth Cheese.
(Signed) J. F. Singleton,
Associate Director of Marketing Service,
THE STORY OF THE MAMMOTH CHEESE FROM CANADA
EXHIBITED AT THE WORLD’S COLUMBIAN
EXPOSITION, CHICAGO, ILL.,
IN THE YEAR 1893.
It is convenient to say that the Mammoth Cheese was “made” at Perth, Ontario. To be exact that statement needs qualification. The initial stages in the making of the cheese were carried out in the usual way by the several Lanark County cheesemakers who co-operated with officials of the Dominion Department of agriculture (Dairy Branch) in producing the cheese.
The names of the factories and the cheesemakers in charge were as follows:
Factories Cheesemakers Riverside (Perth) Jas. McCann Mississippi Jas. Clark Drummond Centre Richard Halpenny Balderson's Corners Wallace Symes Fallbrook David Ennis Harper's Corners W. Wrathall Bathurst Mutual Max. Gibson Tay Banks John McMunn Scotch Line Union John Wiltsie Lone Star James Kirkland Stanleyville Thos. Wright Clear View Elijah Hughes
George Publow, at that time travelling instructor for the district which included Lanark, gave special attention to these factories, with the object of promoting uniformity in the character and condition of the curds.
The instructions to the cheesemakers were to proceed as usual until the curd reached the stage of being nearly ready to “go to press”. It was then dumped into milk cans and hauled to the C. P. R. freight shed at Perth where a great press had been erected to accommodate the “hoops” or what we shall call the casing of the cheese. This casing was made of steel boiler plate. It was nine feet in diameter and six feet high and weighted 3000 pounds. The inside of the casing was lined with galvanized wire screen of quarter inch mesh and that was covered with heavy linen strainer cloth.
The curd from the twelve factories, brought in on September 23rd, filled the casing a little over one third full. The cover was put on and pressure applied with twelve heavy duty jack screws, the frame work of the press taking the resistance. The factories all brought in their curd the next day and after it was filled into the casing pressure was again applied. It required the output of three of the factories to complete the cheese on the third day (September 25th).
207,200 pounds of milk were used to make the cheese. The cheese was never weighed but it was estimated that the quantity of milk used would produce 22,000 pounds of cheese.
When the cheese was fully packed, with casing, end covers, timbers and rods to hold the end covers in place, etc., the shipping weight was fully 26,000 pounds, or 13 tons.
It was decided that the cheese should be turned, that is to say the ends should be reversed, once a fortnight. In its normal position the cheese rested on blocks about four feet above the bottom of the press. Strong rods were suspended from beams of the press. The upper ends of the rods were threaded and fitted with nuts. An eye or loop at the other end was slipped over the trunnions attached to the sides of the steel casing. A few turns of the nuts released the blocks, which were removed, the cheese was swung over, the blocks replaced and the cheese lowered to its normal position. This operation was performed by two men in about five to ten minutes.
The corner of the freight shed was walled off around the cheese and provision was made to maintain a temperature of 40ºF. in the room during the winter.
Mr. Matt. Stanley, of Perth, was commissioned to build a truck which could be used for hauling the cheese and also provide a stand for it at Chicago. It was a very massive affair, designedly so, to increase the impression made by the cheese. The truck was used to haul the cheese only once and that was from the dock in London to the warehouse where it was cut up. Six heavy dray horses were harnessed to the truck. Special permission had to be obtained from the London authorities before it could be moved on the streets.
When the time came to move the cheese to Chicago, it was loaded on a flat car brought alongside the freight shed. Another car carried the truck and four 1000 pound cheese, made in a Glengarry factory owned by D. M. Macpherson, who specialized in cheese of that size. Box cars were loaded with cheese for display and for the competitions.
The Canadian Pacific Railway provided a special train to carry the exhibit from Perth to Windsor, Ontario. A large poster giving some particulars of the cheese and a complete time-table for the run Perth to Windsor, was sent to all stations on the route. The public was invited to come to the stations to see the cheese. There was a large turnout of Perth people, with a brass band to see the train depart at 6.00 a.m. on April 17, 1893. There were crowds at every station on the way to Windsor. It was said that there were 5000 at North Toronto. The writer was on the special train feeling something like a showman.
The arrival of the cheese at the Exposition caused some suprise and astonishment on the part of officials. It excited other emotions when it crashed through the floor of the building while it was being moved from the car to the space prepared for it. The language of the officials who came around the next morning was rather lurid, to say the least.
Although due to the stupidity of the men in charge of the moving, the crashing of the floor was the very thing which opened the flood gates of publicity, and publicity for the Canadian cheese industry was the only reason for the cheese being there. It was more talked about and more written up in the newspapers than any other single exhibit at the Fair. Accounts of it appeared with illustrations even in European papers. I have a large scrap book filled with newspaper clippings, illustrations, cartoons, etc. all referring to the cheese.
The cheese underwent a very severe test, six months under a glass roof in a temperature which ran up to 90ºF. at times. (There was no refrigerator available for such purposes at that time.)
The judges for the standard cheese exhibits at the Fair examined the Mammoth Cheese by drawing a plug with a three foot lard trier, and scored it high enough to secure the Exposition’s Diploma and Bronze Medal.
In spite of the high praise from these experts, a report was circulated that the cheese had “gone bad”. It was probably on account of this report that Sir Thomas Lipton, who had bought the cheese, repudiated his contract. It was then decided to consign it to A. J. Rowson, a prominent importer of Canadian cheese in Tooley Street, London, England. Mr. Rowson turned it over to Mr. Jubal Webb, a London caterer, who cut it up with considerable ceremony in the spring of 1894. The High Commissioner for Canada, Sir Charles Tupper, and other notables were present.
A section of the cheese was sent back to Ottawa in May of that year. It was divided into samples which were widely distributed. The quality of the samples received high praise from the recipients and a fresh wave of publicity completely vindicated the reputation of the cheese.
Incidentally, this writer has in his possession a small piece of the cheese. It dried up without mould or decay but has lost all the characteristics of Cheddar cheese.
Thus ends the story of the largest cheese ever made anywhere. The nearest approach to it was the 7000 pounder made at Ingersoll, Ontario, in 1866. It served the purpose for which it was intended. I had many a headache and sleepless night over it and was very much relieved when on November 17, 1893, I saw it safely lowered into the hold of the Allan Line steamer which carried it to London, England.
The foregoing statement was prepared by Dr. J. A. Ruddick who as a member of the staff of the Commissioner of Dairying and Agriculture, supervised the work of collecting the curd from the various factories and pressing it into the Mammonth Cheese. Later Mr. Ruddick became Commissioner of Dairying and Cold Storage and received the Honorary Degree of LL.D. from Queens University. He retired from the Public Service in 1932 . . . J. F. Singleton, Associate Director of Marketing Service, Dairy Products.
14th October, 1943
Editor’s note: A Mammoth Cheese display which includes a sample of the cheese and the bronze medal won at the Fair, is a permanent feature of the Perth Museum.