Mammoth Cheese monument - Perth, Ont

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by 60103, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I would like to make a request of someone in the Eastern Ontario area.
    If you are in the area of Perth, could you check on the monument to the mammoth cheese? It stood beside the CPR station, but I don't know if it still exists.
    If it's there, could you post a picture and some key dimensions?
    And then we'll tell everyone else what it's about. :thumb:
  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hmmmm, that's a new one on me David. I've driven past Perth on my way to Ottawa, but never spotted that Big Cheese.

  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I remember hearing about that... If I am going that way (not soon, unfortunately) I will try to get a pic or two.

    Do you or Val remember seeing the big butter and cheese carvings at the CNE?

  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    I remember the butter carvings Andrew. I think it was at the winter agricultural show at the CNE
  5. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Yes, I remember the butter carvings too! And Elsie the Borden's cow on display. It was at the CNE as well. I remember my mom would take us and we would have to spend the whole morning seeing the Government Building and all the educational exhibits (groan) before we were allowed to go to the midway.

    My mom would bring our lunch and we'd buy the big container of Honeydew and have our lunch on one of the lawns.

    I also remember how the exhibitors at the Food Building gave away all kinds of free samples in those days, food snacks, paper hats, and once we even got Curly Kates (those pot scrubber things)!

    By dinnertime we would meet my dad at the clock tower, by which point we kids were totally broke. Dad would always slip us some extra money! :) We didn't leave until closing time - man our feet were tired by then!!!

    Thanks for bringing back all those great memories!!
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

  7. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Wow! And I always thought that Switzerland was the biggest 'cheese nation' in the world! :oops: :cry:


    PS: But at least Canadians don't yodel, do they? :eek:
  8. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    That's a neat link Doc. Now how does a Califonian know so much about us here in Ontario EH!!!!!
  9. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member


    While I'd like to say that I'm well traveled and informed, I'll admit to simply doing a net search for "mammoth cheese monument Perth". It was the first link that popped up. Ain't the internet wonderful?
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Mmmmm... honeydew.... ! I almost forgot about that Val.

    I also liked the Ministry of Natural Resources display. In hindsight all those stuffed animals were kind of macabre, but as a kid I didn't care...

  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I spent the 50s in Perth, and the monument was by the station and everything was kept neat. There was no sign on top of the monument then, but an explanatory plaque nearby.
    Last time I was there, we didn't go into town, but the tourist people didn't know and there was a timber monument somewhere. Since the station is gone as well as passenger service, the station area is a bit rougher than it used to be (as in uncut grass!).
    The cheese would make an interesting load, but you could only use it once!
  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    But if you used one of those round red mini-cheeses you could eat if after the ops session! :D :D

  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think it still exists. There is a picture of it in the December Trains magazine, dated a few years ago. It looks better than it did when I lived there -- it seems to have been painted and it has a sign on top.
    However, it does sit in an area that is unvisited except for railfans.
  14. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Gee. The things that come up on The Gauge. I've never actually seen the monument, but I've read about it (somewhere - don't recall where), and I know about the butter sculptures at the Royal Winter Fair in November. I've only been to the CNE once in my life and don't remember if they were there.

    Anyway, it's interesting for someone "south of the border" to read about these things.

    Hope you find some pix and can post them.
  15. kadidle

    kadidle Member

  16. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Have you ever heard of a "ploughman's lunch"?

    During the Industrial Revolution in Britain, before the sandwich was invented, every working stiff ate a ploughman's lunch - a hunk of bread (not the white sliced kind), and a chunk of cheese. Specifically cheddar cheese. More specifically cheddar cheese made in Canada. And even more specifically cheddar cheese made in Eastern Ontario. At its height, Canada supplied over 80% of the cheese eaten in Britain. And most of that came from Ontario.

    It started as a cottage industry in the 1860s with the discovery of the yeast for making cheddar cheese. At first, it was the farmer's wife who made the cheese. The industry then graduated to "cheese factories". No, these weren't the kind that Mr Kraft has. These were small wooden structures where local farmers would cart their milk to have it made into cheddar cheese.

    No farmer could be more than 3 (later expanded to 5) miles away from the cheese factory. Otherwise, the milk would slosh about and become sour on the trip to the cheese factory. Now, with the proliferation of farms in Eastern and Southern Ontario, this meant that there were an awful lot of these cheese factories around the province. At its height, over 2,500 cheese factories.

    Cheddar cheese does not require refrigeration - not even pasteurization. So, the cheese factories took the milk and made it into cheddar cheese. The cheese was then stuffed into round wooden boxes of cheese about 24" in diameter and 16" deep.

    Now, how does cheese relate to railway, you ask? For a moment, forget about the big cheese in Perth. Relative to the total cheese being produced at the time, that was small potatoes. And besides, it was a publicity stunt to increase cheese sales (as a marketing gimic, it didn't work).

    Instead, think of all the cheese being consumed in Britain and recall I said that over 80% of that cheese came from Canada - specifically Ontario. How are you going to get it from the backwoods of Eastern Ontario to Britain? Obviously we're going to send it over in ships. But how are we going to get the cheese from the factory to the ports?

    Three guesses and the first two don't count.

    Yes, you are correct! The railways of Eastern Ontario are going to ship the cheese from the local cheese factory to the ports!!!

    On the Brockville, Westport & Sault Ste Marie Railway (it never got to Sault Ste Marie), Friday was the day that cheese was shipped along this short 45 mile line between Westport and Brockville. Over 1,500 boxes of cheese were shipped weekly, even as late as 1905 - 1910. It doesn't sound like much until you do some calculations. A box of cheese weighs 90 lbs. 1,500 boxes x 90 lbs = 13,500 lbs or 6.75 tons of cheese - each week!

    However, with the onset of WW1, the appearance of the refrigerator, more food choices, the sandwich, J.R. Kraft and processed cheese, and other things, the cheddar cheese industry started to go into decline. The cheese factories started to decline.

    In its later days in the 1940s, over 20 cheese factories were shipping their cheese to Westport for loading onto boxcars. By the early 1950s, most of the cheese factories had disappeared. Only the Forfar cheese factory is left in the area. Another one is Balderson Cheese in Lanark.

    There were a number of large cheeses that were produced, the Perth cheese being one of the better publicized ones - at least in more recent times. The monument was moved to the north end of town along Hwy 7. I think it's still there.

    Bob M.
  17. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Bob, thank you very much for that fascinating "slice" of Ontario history.

    My mother told me a story from her childhood about 2 of her uncles who had moved to the US. Whenever they came up for a visit they would make the obligatory visit to the cheese factory in Baden (near Kitchener) to buy Limburger cheese. Seems it just wasn't quite the same down in Texas!

  18. galt904

    galt904 Member

    There's also a historical plaque about a big cheese in Ingersoll (on highway 19 just north of the 401) or at least there was until someone vandalised it - don't know if the plaque has been re-erected or not.
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Bob: a ploughman's lunch should also include a large pickled onion.
  20. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Let us not forget "a pint of your best bitter please Landlord".

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