Parry Sound Memories
After reading Bill Chesters story about growing
up in the small town of Lucknow, Ontario, a story interlaced with
his memories of the CNR/CPR/ and the creamery cperations of Silverwoods
Dairy in that area, it surprised me to no end at how his memories
followed a remarkable similarity to that of my own when I was growing
up in Parry Sound, Ontario, with my almost identical memories of the
CNR/CPR/and creamery operations in our town.
The CNR had a spur line connected to the Imperial Oil
dock and tank farm on Georgian Bay which was a very busy spur line
in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. There was always two
switching crews daily, except for Sunday, and thousands of tank cars
of gasoline, fuel oil, and other merchandise were moved in and out
of that Spur line during WW2. Our Public school loaded several cars
of scrap paper on that same spur line, for the War effort during the
early 1940s, and used the proceeds to buy sports equipment and
motion picture cameras for our school. The CNR main terminus
in Parry Sound was originally a part of this Spur line beginning in
the summer of 1908, but was later relocated two miles south of Parry
Sound at South Parry during the 1920s.
And we had a Creamery operation in Parry Sound too. It was not as large as the Silverwood operation in Lucknow, and I worked there in the summer of 1950 prior to my employment with CP in May of 1951. And yes I wrapped butter, and yes, I was a real whiz at it and could fill a 50 pound box real quick. We would make 500 pounds per day with Cream from the surrounding area. I was 18 years old at the time, and on one occasion, while the head butter maker was at the local hospital having all his infected teeth removed, I ran the whole show by myself including pasteurizing the sour cream, churning, loading the finished butter on a gurney and putting it in the freezer, pumping the buttermilk out, wrapping the previous days 500 pound production which had now been hardened in the freezer, and finally, the clean up with steam from a rubber hose. In order to wrap butter quickly, I had to first grab a large stack of parchment wrapping paper the previous day, turn up a small section of the corner of each sheet, and when finished, put the wrappers in a large ceramic urn full of water. When wrapping began, I would remove a fist full of these wet wrappers and put them on a special wrapping bench. We had a little rubber thimble to put over the index finger, then place the pound of butter in the middle of the paper, grasp the turned up edge with the index finger and presto. The thumbs and all eight fingers were equally employed in this maneuver. It was amazing how quickly you could wrap 50 pounds of butter once you mastered the technique.
My sister and her husband (Jack Patterson, who had worked
at Lambton Yard Office in the 1950s), and myself, bought the
Georgian Bay Creamery in 1969 (I was working for GM in Windsor at
the time) and we ran it until about 1992 when we sold the wholesale
dairy business to our competitor in Parry Sound. We then operated
a Dairy Bar, Sub Post Office, and the Gray Coach Bus Terminal for
several more years. But like the T. Eaton Company, the creamery name
no longer exists in Parry Sound. The BIG guys like Neilson's now control
the milk business.