Address: 1923 Carsonby Road
Carsonby Cheese Factory
Location: Pt. Lot 10 Con 3
Date and Fabric: moved; 1919 on this site; frame cheese factory converted to storage
Known Owners: on this site: William G. Godkin [possibly under a corporate name] 1919-1929; Carsonby Cheese and Dairy Co. Ltd. 1929-1950
The weathered old cheese factory at Carsonby, situated on a rise on Carsonby Road just west of old Highway 16, looks as if it had been there forever. In fact, local farmers have moved the building twice. On a cold winter day late in the nineteenth century, Jack Baldry and helpers used sleighs drawn by two teams of horses to transport the building from Main Street in Manotick to Carsonby. Stories have been passed on about the spirituous liquors used to keep out the cold, and about the consequent songs and merriment enjoyed by all as the haul slowly progressed.
Reports vary as to the origin of the factory. Some say that it was once the old Manotick Drill Hall but others maintain that it was the cheese factory which stood beside the drill hall. It is agreed, however, that James Weir operated the first cheese factory at Carsonby. After consultation with local farmers Mr. Weir, a cheesemaker from Kars, started the factory on land purchased from Edward James Craig in Lot 11, Concession 2. He paid twenty-five dollars for title to one-eighth of an acre.
Mr. Weir operated the factory for several years before selling it to William G. Godkin in 1893. Mr. Godkin owned the business for 36 years; in the early years he made the cheese himself but in time he acquired other cheese factories and employed others to operate Carsonby. In 1919, Mr. Godkin had the factory moved again, but not far this time - simply across the road to Lot 10, Concession 2 where there was better drainage on a corner of the Carson farm. Carsonby area farmers formed a joint stock company and purchased the Carsonby Cheese and Dairy Co Ltd. for $2,000 in 1929, each patron buying shares in the factory. The factory continued to operate on this basis until a dwindling milk supply and a declining cheese market led to its closing in 1950.
In its heyday, the factory produced cheese of very high quality. Two cheesemakers, Harvey Levere and Charles L. Brown, received awards on several occasions for the highest scoring cheese in eastern Ontario and in 1930, Mr. Brown earned the title of Champion Cheese Maker of Canada.
According to a description given by Mr. James McNiece, who remembers the old factory from the 1920's and 1930's, the exterior appearance of the building is little changed. Then as now, it was an unpainted frame building of aged, weather-beaten boards. There was a receiving area covered by a roof at the side of the building, and an external whey tank where the farmers would fill their milk cans to return to the farm with this very economical feed for pigs. [after Cheese Factories of Rideau Township, 1990 21]
21 Rideau Township Historical Society, Cheese Factories of Rideau Township, by Iona K. Joy, publication expected in June, 1990. This compilation of data assembled by many members and friends of the Society includes much more information about the operation of Carsonby and other cheese factories than the present Inventory, which is concerned primarily with the buildings.