The volunteers at Farmtown Park and people in the rural community have memories of life in Hastings County. They also have valuable skills they would like to share about growing crops, caring for animals, making cheese and butter, and all the domestic arts like cooking, preserving, spinning, weaving and knitting. We are collecting stories and showcasing our collection online.

Cheese making

Hastings County Cheese Factories 1910

These are some of the images of cheese factories in Hastings County taken by unknown photographers in about 1910. If you have any photographs of cheese factories or of cheese making, please get in touch with us at info@farmtownpark.ca or (613) 395-0015.

Making Cheddar The Traditional Way

Come on a tour of the Dairy Building at Farmtown Park and learn about the history of cheese making. Explore the barn, visit the cheese factory and watch the videos. They still make Cheddar cheese at Maple Dale Cheese in Plainfield, Ontario using traditional methods. This short video gives one some idea of the physical labour involved.

Norm MacWaters’s Long Career In The Cheese Industry

Norm MacWater has worked in the cheese industry for over 50 years as a cheese and butter factory inspector, policy maker and now as a cheese grader. He has donated many artifacts to the Hastings County of Agricultural Heritage. 

History of Cheese Making

Cheese making started commercially in Hastings County around 1864. By 1920, there were cheese factories on each concession run as co-operatives by the farmers who lived within easy distance of the factory. The cheese was boxed and shipped to Belleville, usually by train, to be sold to dealers and then transported to Great Britain.

The video The History of Cheese Making in Hastings County was made a number of years ago before the Memorial Garden was planted at the front of Farmtown Park.

The Dutch Clock

After WWII, the Cheese Producers Association and the Province of Ontario wanted to modernize the cheese industry. In 1956, Charlie Heath from Stirling and Everett Biggs; deputy minister of agriculture for Ontario, went to a flower auction in Aalsmeer, Holland and saw the Dutch Clock auction system in action. In this type of auction the base price is set and the clock runs backwards. Bidding is stressful. The buyers press a button to make a bid. Press too soon and you pay too much, press too late you and lose to another bidder.

Heath and Biggs came back to Ontario with the large green and white Dutch Clock that is now at the museum. It cost $1,200 to buy and $3,000 to install. The first auction was in Kingston on July 12, 1956. In 1959, the clock was moved to Belleville and was used by the Milk Marketing Board which took over from the Cheese Producers Association, to auction cheese.


For thousands of years, farmers threshed grain by hand using flails. In 1784, Andrew Meikle, from East Lothian, Scotland, invented the first successful threshing machine. Beginning around 1870, similar threshers were used in Ontrario. In this video, Roy Rogers demonstrates the use of a “ground hog thresher.”

Making Apple Cider

There is an apple display in the Dairy Building at the museum. The Morton family donated an old cider press, which they used to make apple cider. Rodney Cooney of Cooney Farms still makes cider each year, although now they bring in apples from the Brighton area. In this video, Rodney describes the purpose-built stainless steel crusher and press they use and talks about a time when they grew apples at Cooney Farms.

Welmans Women’s Institute Red Cross Quilt 1915

The discovery of a century-old unfinished quilt has created as many questions as answers for the Wellmans Women’s Institute. If you recognize any of the names or know anything about the quilt please get in touch with Margaret Grotek or Louise Livingstone at info@farmtownpark.ca.

Stories from The Land

Dr. Jennifer Davis collected stories from 20 people in this area who live close to the land. This was part of her research for her doctorate at Queens University in the Department of Education. She is on the steering group of the A Growing Heritage project. This short video highlights some of the stories she was told.