The process of manufacturing cheese began with the milk delivered by farmers being heated in a large vat. Starter was added to cause the milk to coagulate and the whey was separated out. The remaining curd was packed into containers and pressure was applied to remove moisture. After two weeks, the cheese would be put in boxes and shipped.
In 1881, a quarter of an acre of land in Lot 1, Concession 8 of Drummond Township was purchased from Nathaniel Balderson for the purpose of building a factory that would produce cheese. The location meant the factory would be centrally located in the vicinity of an area known as Balderson’s Corners. Plans were made to acquire factory furniture, milk wagons and drill a well. In 1884, milk drawers with names like James King, Robert Somers, Joe Moulton, T. Haley, Louis Clyne, Arthur Cook, Wm Cunningham and H. Echlin were paid an average of around $100. By 1896, about 2,737,922 pounds of milk were processed and 262,678 pounds of cheese were manufactured. It took about 10 pounds of milk to make a pound of cheese. About $6.90 would be paid for 10 pounds of milk and $8.48 for a pound of cheese. The original Balderson Cheese factory burned in 1929 and a new one was erected the next year. In 1981, a hundred years of cheesemaking was celebrated and Balderson Cheese is well known far and wide.
In 1884, a cheese factory was built in the village of Hopetown on the west side of the creek. It produced cheese from milk drawn by a cooperative formed by area farmers. The factory ceased producing cheese in 1933. From 1933 to 1948, cheeses boxes were manufactured there.
Middleville Cheese Factory in 1902 photo courtesy of James Dodds From left to right: in doorway, Jack Blackburn, A.R McIntyre, George Somerville, First wagon: George Mather, driver unknown, Single wagon: Thomas Mitchell, On platform: helper, Allan Blackburn, Thomas Perry (Cheesemaker), Third wagon: driver unknown, Crawford Dodds, Fourth wagon: Bill Rankin, Russell Borrowman, Fifth wagon: Alex Erskine, M. Jackson, Billy Somerville, Rex Penman Sixth wagon: George Arnott, Seventh wagon: Lorne Somerville, John Erskine and John Mitchell Jr.
The original cheese factory in Middleville was built in 1888. That building was located on the 6th Concession of Lanark Township, just south of the Middleville School on the opposite side of the road. It burned in a fire in 1929. A second cheese factory was built further south on the concession.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.