Milk cans

Milk cans were set on the road

In years gone by, milk was delivered differently in Sooke

Milk comes in cartons from the grocery store, and today we don’t see many fields with grazing milk cows, but it wasn’t always like this. In the 1940s and 1950s Sooke sent dozens of milk cans a day to Victoria.

The 10 gallon cans, as pictured, were described by dairy farmer Rex Kendrew in 1998, “Ten gallon cans equal 100 lbs of milk … that meant several tons of milk a day … now there’s none.”  The roadsides were dotted with the steel cans, picked up each morning by Island Freight Service and hauled to the Island Farms plant in Victoria for processing.

Twice daily milking, either by hand or occasionally on larger farms by milking machine, produced the volume making up that fluid tonnage. Herds generally ranged from six cows to 30. After morning milking they were let out to pasture and returned for evening milking about four o’clock.

Some farmers had separators, a mechanism which forced the heavy cream from the milk, a process that required the strong arms of a youngster to turn a crank employing centrifugal force to divert the particles of cream.  Smaller five gallon cans were used for shipping cream, which brought a premium price as a reward for the extra labour.

When the processed milk came back to Sooke from the dairy via a dairy delivery truck, it was delivered to customers in glass bottles. If you wanted three quarts left at your door, you put your three empty quart bottles out to signal the milkman.

Manure cleaned from the gutters of the cow stalls in the stables and distributed on the fields, provided nutrients to grow hay, alfalfa and feed such as mangels to carry the cows over the winter.  Jersey, Holstein and Ayrshire seemed the most popular breeds.

Among the most prominent dairy farmers west of the Sooke River were Glinz/Wilford on West Coast Road, Welsh on Maple and Grant, Lunson on Helgesen, with Strong, Nissen, Cotterill, Rudd, Duncan, Kendrew in central Sooke. East of Sooke River were Milne, Martin, Jensen, Leiper and Doran. Some farmers did not ship, but had their customers pick up bottles at the farm.

The 1960s brought new methods to dairying and bulk tanks into use. By the 1980s the growth of regulations had completely altered the picture, and milk cans were seen no more.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

Vaping a growing problem in Sooke school district

Island’s chief medical officer raises the alarm

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

Fate of accused in Saanich couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Vancouver Island provincial park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

Most Read