Scattered throughout the County in the later half of the nineteenth century were cider mills. Some of the mills were large scale operations, while others were presses owned by farmers, used to make some extra money. As mixed farming was prevalent during the early European settlement days, many farms had orchards and would need to process their fruit. Apples could be kept over the winter or made into cider, hard cider, syrup, apple cider vinegar and apple butter. Below are some examples of cider mill operations.
Louis and Catherine Lobsinger – Carlsruhe
Louis and Catherine can be found farming in Carrick Township on the 1861 Canadian Census. By the late 1860s, Louis began operating a sawmill in Carlsrhue. By the early 1800s, the business had expanded to include a cider and chopping mill. Upon Louis’ death in 1886, Catherine took over both the saw and cider mills. She can be found in gazetteers and directories operating the cider mill until the early 1900s, retiring between 1903 and 1910.
Moltke Cider Mill – Moltke
Fred and Baltzer Weigel, who settled in Moltke in the 1860s built a cider mill in the 1870s. Their first venture was making vinegar, which they stored in large barrels and sold to stores. A steam engine was added and they rented out special copper kettles to settlers to make their own apple butter at home. The first apple butter made at the mill was in the early 1900s, using steam, copper pipes and wooden vats. To their mixture they added soda, which neutralized the acidity of the apples and added a sweetness to the flavour. At the turn of the century the mill was sold to the Ruhl family which made improvements to the equipment in the mill. A change in ownership occurred again in 1925 when the Ortman family purchased the mill and continued to make apple butter. This mill was known locally for its high-quality apple butter and was operated until 1970. The photo seen here of the mill was taken in 1968, shortly before the mill stopped operation.
Paisley Cider Mill – Paisley
The cider mill seen in this photo was the original site of the Paisley Creamery, whose name can be seen on the building on in the photo. Located on Mill St., this site was purchased in the early 1920s by Henry Hergott, and operated through the 1970s. This photo of the mill was taken in 1967 while it was still in operation.
Hergott-Lobsinger Apple Butter & Cider Plant – Mildmay
A big name in the apple cider business in Bruce County was Hergott Bros. Based in Mildmay, not only did Hergott Bros. operate a cider mill, they were also manufacturers of apple cider presses and evaporators. Though manufacturing of machinery began decades prior, Hergott Bros. began operating a cider mill in 1903. Farmers were responsible for bringing their apples, and barrels to the mill where they could be pressed into cider or made into apple butter. Like the Weigels, Hergott Bros. put soda into their apple butter to reduce acidity.
In 1928, Jacob Hergott bought his brother Henry’s half share of the business, as Henry had started up a cider mill in Paisley. Jacob operated the mill until 1938, when it was sold to brothers Charles and Philip Lobsinger. Under the Lobsinger Bros. the cider mill saw expansion. With rations on sugar during the Second World War the popularity of apple butter surged and apple butter from the mill was shipped throughout Ontario. Philip Lobsinger retired in 1962, and upon Charles’ death in 1972 the company ceased operation.
Hergott Bros./Lobsinger Bros. Apple Cider Presses and Evaporators
Jacob and Henry Hergott began manufacturing apple cider presses prior to 1891. A list from 1891 shows several cider mills throughout Bruce County were using their machinery including the ones in Carlsruhe and Moltke mentioned above. Others included Dunkeld, Paisley, Chepstow, Teeswater, Hepworth, Port Elgin, and Walkerton. Jacob Hergott had designed a press known as a Knuckle Joint Cider Press – this press was for industrial use rather than for small operations and was custom made. When Jacob sold the cider mill to the Lobsinger brothers in 1928, he also sold the manufacturing business. As part of expansion, Lobsinger Bros. switched from custom work to commercial production and introduced a “junior”, a hand press as well as a grape crusher. Production of presses and evaporators continued into the 1960s. The image of the Junior Press is taken from a promotional pamphlet.