Farm families have many stories from the days of the cream cheque.
Now volunteers with this province’s only museum devoted exclusively to the rural creamery business are looking for those stories.
Doreen Lamoureux is president of the museum committee that oversees the artifacts housed inside the former Eriksdale Creamery which operated for nearly 80 years before its closure in 1990. In 1995, local volunteers began to convert the facility to a museum.
Now they’re putting out a call for stories from the years when creameries were in business across the province.
The creamery’s existence in rural Manitoba was an integral part of the small family farm’s livelihood – often the farm family’s one steady source of cash flow – and they hope to document as much of its related history as they can, she added.
They’re looking for stories from both owners of creameries as well as any photos they’d be able to donate, plus they’re looking for stories from farm families who shipped to them.
“We’re looking for the interesting stories, and for pictures with the dates of operation (of creameries),” she said.
One story they’ve already heard is from a woman who went to town to have her baby, returning home to the farm with her newborn in the cream truck.
Lamoureux’s own recollections include the rides she and her siblings occasionally took to school on the cream truck. “We always walked, so we were happy when we could get a ride,” she said. She and her husband who continue to farm near Eriksdale also shipped cream themselves for 25 years.
The creamery was a major commercial enterprise in many parts of rural Manitoba, particularly where farmland was marginal and stock raising predominated.
In the 1940s there were 72 creamery operations in Manitoba. By the 1960s, however, the number of firms began to drop rapidly due to declining local milk production and competition from large corporate operations.
By 1990, when Eriksdale’s ceased operations, there were just 11 independent creameries remaining.
The Eriksdale Creamery was constructed around 1912 by the Brandon Creamery and Supply Company.
Anyone with a story for the Eriksdale museum project can contact Dan Bottrell, Box 73 Eriksdale, Man. R0C 0W0.