Cornwall’s Wonderbread factory late 1930s before the new roof was added in this fall.
Also known as Borden’s Dairy, 9th St E., south side between Pitt and Sydney Streets, Cornwall.
In 1925 the Ottawa office of American owned Borden’s Dairy constructed a cement block dairy and stables at the above location. It now houses apartments.
Cornwall Township historian Marland Murray provided the following description of their operations in the Aug. 2003 issue of the Cornwall Township Historical Society’s newsletter.
“Borden’s, converged on Cornwall in 1925, built their large new building with modern dairy equipment, automatic can washers etc. Once established, they put on a big parade, with their beautiful horses, sparkling new harness and fancy milk delivery wagons. They drove around Cornwall advertising their intention to sell milk. This shook-up the existing dairies in Cornwall who did not welcome this kind of competition.”
“Borden’s needed milk suppliers. They canvassed the farmers in the area, offering to pay more money than the cheese factories did for milk. My father and his brother, Will Murray, were the only 2 o this road (King’s Hwy. No. 5), venturesome enough to prepare to ship milk to Cornwall at this time…This involved building a new milk house, with a cement tank large enough to hold water fro cooling the 8 gallon cans of milk and an ice-house to store the 300 large blocks of ice, which would be needed in the summer to keep the milk cool. Selling milk for the public’s use meant milk had to be cooled quickly and kept cool. It also meant that milk had to be produced both winter and summer to have a steady supply. Before this most farmers dried their cows in the winter, except for one cow to supply their family needs. Other farmers in Glen Falloch and Martintown also signed up with Borden’s. This required milk to be hauled to Cornwall every day, both winter and summer. In summer we used a truck, in winter a sleigh as the roads were not ploughed for automobiles…”
“Tom Carpenter who lived in the white house on the corner of Pitt and 13th Sts., (just north of the Dairy Queen today) was hired to take care of their prized Percherons. You may have noticed over the years the beautiful garden…that grows there. I think he must have taken home lots of horse manure while working for Borden’s and the garden is still reaping the benefits.”
“Borden’s did not succeed as well as they had expected. It was always a mystery to me why they thought they could come to Cornwall and to take over the other established dairies. A few smaller dairies fell by the wayside, but most worked hard at keeping their regular customers. Many people preferred to stay with the dairies they knew, which were run by people they knew, rather than shift to newcomers from Ottawa. Your milk driver was your friend. He delivered your milk, cream and butter needs and usually had the gossip of the day as well…
Above are the plans for the factory, which has now been converted into The Madison Apartments. You can still see the horse ramp, on the top right hand side, as you enter the parking lot to Farm Boy from 9th St.
“By 1938 the dairy building was idle and efforts were being made to sell or rent it. ”
Marland Murray reminisced about the horse stable which is still standing.
“The wagons and the sleighs were stored in the first floor and the horses on the second. It was like going to the Royal Winter Fair to into their stable. Very clean with fancy well polished harness hanging on the wall. The horses were always well groomed and looked after.”