Creamery booth at fair, 1920s. CDM 988.225.14.

The Comox Co-operative Creamery Association reaches the end of a 118 year long story with the imminent closing of the Courtenay Saputo dairy processing plant.

But it’s not the end for the Valley’s dairy farmers whose milk will now be hauled to the Island Farms plant in Victoria.

“Smaller farms, with lower quantities of milk, could not always justify investing in a [cream] separator. Unless they worked co-operatively, they would retain a small share in the market. They had only a few cows to compete, and could not put as much to market as the larger farms.

Thus, in the spring of 1901, creamery founders held a series of meetings. On March 12, 1901, they reached an agreement and the Comox Co-operative Creamery Association was born, assisted with the efforts of the Farmer’s Institute and the Agricultural Association. The board purchased one acre of land, located where the Courtenay library is today, for $100.

…Overall, the agreement was good for the small farmers, who helped to supply Jersey cows for the creamery. At the start, the creamery used 255 cows to contribute to their products. By 1920, barely two decades after the beginning of the creamery, there was an astounding 2,700 cows contributing to the co-op. In 1946, the co-operative members built a new plant. On June 10, 1982 Dairyland opened a new $4.5M plant on 28th Street in Courtenay. At that time, 26 local dairy farmer-owners continued to provide raw milk to the plant.”

Excerpt from A Short History of the Comox Co-operative Creamery Association, compiled written and published by: City of Courtenay Heritage Commission and the Courtenay and District Museum.