Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, November 2, 2015

Look back, look way back

 I've written about cheese factories before. Not sure I've come up with anything more about the growth and decline of the industry, since then, but I want to share this one.

On Sunday I photographed it,  beside Weller's Bay just north of Consecon, as we walked a section of the Millennium Trail from Salem to Blakely Road. I would like to have taken more shots, but the resident dog joined the tour at that point, and seemed agitated at my interest in his property.
The place still has the characteristic tall roof and the covered canopy loading/offloading bay. The owners of the property have enriched its history with a fascinating collection of found objects nailed to the wall - I didn't shoot that bit, as it felt like invading their home space.

It was intriguing, seeing the building from the slightly different perspective of the old rail trail; it has just always been there as we headed toward Consecon and places south along the highway. Seeing it again launched me into some time travel. We all know that early days saw shipping and then the railway as the way out for Prince Edward County's wealth of  produce. The factory's proximity to the tracks leads me to thinking about the activity that must have take place right here, in this neat and quiet spot.

"The dog trots freely" ~ Ferlinghetti
Prince Edward County: An Illustrated History (Campbell, Davies & Robertson, County Magazine Printshop 2009) is one of my go-to local history resources. Gerald Ackerman's  book The History of Cheesemaking in Prince Edward County forms the basis for one of the articles. Think it's time I found his book and travelled back to
the heyday of cheese in the early 1870's.
And County Canners by Douglas A. Crawford, also. As a farm girl, my life was connected to these industries (but only peripherally, as part of "what does your dad do for a living?")

Walking along the rail trail past the Consecon feed mill and its insulbrick clad freight shed suggested yet another history quest. Many of these structures still stand, but they are pretty circumspect about how much history they impart. Resonance, in large measure. How I wish our dad were still here to tell some tales.


  1. Thank you. This is very interesting. I remember being in the Consecon cheese factory many times (late 1950s), and I remember the train running alongside the western side of the road, and then crossing over near the factory. Perhaps you know that the house that's on the property of the former factory is not the original house that was inhabited by the cheesemaker and his family. I'm not sure when the original house was demolished, but I remember it well, too. Speaking of PEC cheese factories, do you know if the old Elmdale factory is still standing? I know the old Ben Gill factory and house are standing, and I seem to recall Royal Street's old building was still standing. I must look look for that book, PEC: An Illustrated History. I have the one that was written by Gerald Ackerman, highly recommended. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for visiting Brian. About the house; figured it was a replacement, the scale not right for a cheesmaker's house. Envy your opportunity to visit both. Don't know about Elmdale, but do know that the Royal Street building (started by a maternal ancestor, a pioneer PEC cheesemaker - visit the linked post in line 2 for details) is now a winery. Will look for the Ackerman book, too. Always been curious to learn if he is a relative as well. Old PEC families all end up related to each other somehow.

    1. My grandfather was the cheese maker at this factory during the late1950s and also at Ben Gill for 19 years, plus some time in Newburgh, Centreville factories. I was four when they lived in the older house at Weller's Bay. Many nice memories, including my aunt being married in the Consecon United Church. If only we could go back in time ...

  3. I was looking for the value of a large cheesebox from the Consecon cheese factory and found your site. How marvelous. We had a cottage off Blakely Rd. From 1948 to 2004, and knew Cecil and Lila Blakely well. I used to walk the rail tracks to Consecon often and your article brings fond memories.

    1. A cheese box from the Consecon factory? Wow. I have a cream can (smaller version of the milk can) from the old Wellington dairy business (my memory is failing and I can't recall if it was a creamery or cheese factory.) Nice to have these.

  4. There was a fire that burnt the house down quite a few years ago, maybe 15 or more years?