Dairy farming in Canada is one of the largest agricultural endeavors in the country, with Manitoba (as of 2022) having 242 farms and 47,000 milking cows. These milking cows can track their ancestor as most Canadian dairy cows use seven distinct breeds. The breeds are Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey, Canadian (bred in Quebec), Shorthorn and Brown Swiss. Milk from these cows becomes delicious cheeses, butter, creams, yogurts and ice creams.
When choosing these products at your local grocery store, it's always important to look for the blue cow logo. The Dairy Farmers of Canada (originally The Canadian Dairy Farmers' Federation, founded in 1934) developed the logo in 1994. It was created from the relationship of the Dairy Farmers of Canada merging with the Dairy Bureau of Canada, a national non-profit organization responsible for the overall promotion of Canadian dairy products. Their first project was the "100% Canadian Milk" campaign focusing on Canadian dairy farms and their associated products. The logo on any product states that it's from 100% Canadian milk. This logo also means that the product does not use antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. Canada has one of the highest standards for milk products in the world.
Virden has had many diary farmers in its mist. A well-known dairy farming family from Virden is the McMillans. The name may sound familiar as the dairy farm is now where McMillan Bay homes stand. The farm was operated by Angus High Duncan McMillan, originally from Finch, Stormont County, Ontario. He and his wife, Annie nee Cameron (also from Ontario), came with their children, Catherine, Mary, Chrissie, Jessie, John, and Ellen. While living in Manitoba, the couple had their children, William, Dollie, Ruby, Robert, and Rosie. Their dairy farm also operated as a milk delivery service. The family sold their milk in cans, then moved to bottles (like the ones in the photo) and sold 14 quarts for a dollar. Their horse Kitty was so accustomed to their delivery route she could take Agnus where he needed to be, if he tired.
If you have any stories of the McMillans, their farm, or other dairy farms, contact the museum by email at email@example.com or phone at 204-748-1659.
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Dairy farmers in Canada are always looking for better and more responsible farming practices. Whether for the environment or treatment of their cows, they showcase what it means to be a Canadian farmer; high standards and a love for the job.