THE DEMISE OF ONTARIO'S SMALL DAIRIES

 

Milkman Cecil Neal1977

Thomas and May Hannah moved to a farm in Bonarlaw area in 1920 and in 1930 started to sell milk to Marmora residents.  The business grew and became known as the Marmora Dairy,  located at 71 Forsyth.

Married twice,  Thomas's first wife,  the former Janet May Grant,  predeceased him in 1953. Thomas,  himself, died on June 21, 1970, survived by his second wife, Maria Hyland,  four daughters,  (Violet Abram, Iris Bateman, Doris Robinson and Wilda Hannah) and one son,  Frank. One son, Norman,  predeceased him.

In 1947 Thomas retired from the Marmora Dairy and his son,  Frank took over the business and ran it until 1962,  when he and his wife Fiona,  sold it toKeith McGee,  who later sold to Bill and Helen Somerville.  Frank had purchased the Maple Leaf Dairy in Stouffville,  but sold most of his interests to Silverwoods where he worked until his retirement.  He died on Aug. 22, 1992 in Newmarket.

MEMORIES:

Michael Beaupré :  I went with Tommy, Frank's father, on a milk pick-up run when I was about 8. I was of no help. His strength hefting those metal milk containers was astounding. He also won prizes for his fiddle playing.

Bill Turvey writes:   This is a picture of Tommy Hannah, who ran the dairy into the 50's. [pic is from the mid 60's] Michael Beaupre is my cousin...we're the same age. I also went out with Tommy in the mornings, probably with Michael.   Tommy was our Step-Grandfather.     Interesting to me...the dairy building is still there [a home now]...as is his house next door. Wonderful memories!

Glenn Mawer:   When I was 15, frank Hannah had me deliver milk to Glen allan park in his dairy truck, alone, prior to having a license.

Al Grant wrote:  Frank was a cousin.  I also helped Frank deliver milk and still remember being paid a silver dollar once - was that huge!  He also had a white Studebaker- a good looking car. 

In 1961 there were 1710 dairies in Ontario; by 1998, there were only 270.  The last small dairy in Ontario to close was the Sunrise Dairy in Wingham - 1934 to 1998.

So what happened?

Improvements in road and rail delivery systems, packaging methods and processing techniques permitted larger dairies to increase dramatically the distribution range of even their most perishable product, pasteurized fluid milk. Consequently, large, modern, centrally located production facilities were constructed and many small, regional dairy companies phased out.  Keeping an eye on the management of milk supply,  was the Milk Marketing Board,  set up by the Ontario Government(now called “The Dairy Farmers of Ontario).  But for many small producers,  the demise of Ontario’s last small dairies seems to have been caused by questionable actions on the part of the board,  acting in the interests of the large companies.  It became a political issue.

REMEMBER THE MILK MAN?

Retail distribution of most dairy products also changed significantly. In the 1940s and 1950s many dairy products were delivered door-to-door; today, consumers buy most dairy products directly from a grocery store,  supplied by the large dairy companies,  and home delivery has disappeared.

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Richard Deering:   Mr. Neal gave me a job when I was a kid. Went with him on Saturdays and we delivered milk to cottagers on Crowe Lake after his regular run. He was a nice man.

Wayne VanVolkenburg:  I accompanied Cec on his Cordova route one time. Didn't think we would ever get home! He sure enjoyed visiting with everyone.

Thomas Empey :  Cecil was an amazing person as was his wife, Verna. Remember riding in that van a few times.

Julie Clark:   Yes, for sure he was a great person but he always would say that he was going to take me with him and I would run and hide when he would come.

Ken Bonter: The chocolate was the best.

Annette Taylor:   Cec always had time for a chat.

Anne Philpot:  He even supplied goat's milk for those in the family with allergies!

Pearl McCaw Franko:   Often, as there were five of us, Mom sent me to the dairy for a quart of milk. Half way up the hill I sometimes dropped it. In tears back to the dairy, I'd drag my feet. As soon as he saw me he'd hand me another quart. No recriminations. Just a smile. He probably cleaned up the glass too. He always called me Pearlie Whirley. Dear Uncle Cec brought our milk faithfully year after year. Very nice man.

Patricia O'Brien: Cecil brought our kindergarten class our milk right to the door and let us pick it out of his cartons! It was the highlight of the day lol

Annmarie Willman-Spry He was Mom's deskmate all through school. :)

Joan Smith Warren Always had time to chat with my Mom when he delivered the milk she liked that

Jodie Marshall He brought milk to Sacred Heart for lunch and always put in a couple chocolate ones.

 

Sandra L. Wilson Uncle Cec always chaperoned "teenagers" because everyone liked him!