Most early settlers didn’t have traditional farm animals at the time of settlement, but once they became more established, herd animals such as sheep and cows were raised for their meat and other biproducts such as milk and cheese. Milk pails, cream cans, and several different styles of butter churns were standard farming equipment. Dairy products were often bartered at local general stores for other goods, or for store tokens to be used at a later date. In this way, farmers could support themselves as well as supplement their income.
As time went on and communities grew, cheese factories, dairies and creameries began to spring up throughout the County. Some of the early companies included the Burgoyne Cheese Company, Dunkeld Butter and Cheese Manufacturing, and the Teeswater Creamery. By the turn of the 20th Century, as villages and towns became larger and the demand for dairy products rose, creameries and dairies were in most larger communities in Bruce County.
Early cheese factories and dairies often purchased milk from locals either directly or by using collectors, who gathered the milk in large cans and took it to the dairy. Examples from Bruce County include John Oswald of Arran Township who delivered milk to the Cantire Cheese Factory and John W. Rogers of Maple Hill, who took what he collected to the Dunkeld Butter and Cheese Manufacturing. Rogers was paid $1.45 per trip. Once the milk and cream were processed, they were delivered to customers. Large cans were taken by horse and wagon to various customers and the milk man doled out the desired amount from the large cans using a measured cup. With the standardization of pasteurization taking place in Ontario during the late 1930s, the large cans and measuring cups were replaced with sterilized glass bottles sealed with paper caps.
Bruce County can boast that is has one of the oldest creameries in Canada in the Teeswater Creamery, established in 1875, which was the second in Canada and the first in Ontario. It has gone through many owners, today being owned by Gay Lea Foods Co-Operative, and transformations, including adding poultry and egg grading and distribution, and has been in business continually for nearly 150 years.