TOUR STOP 23: Gilt Edge Cheese Factory - 118 Main St.

Gilt Edge Cheese Factory

The Guilt Edge Cheese and Butter Company was established around 1894 and at first was cooperatively owned. Later it was purchased by Joseph McAlonan who began butter production along with cheese. After his death in 1935 the factory was run by his sons, Bernard and Ed, and his daughter, Marjorie.

The last cheese maker here was Ken Elliot who made cheese for twelve years or so before selling it to the Ault Milk Company to be used as a milk receiving station.
The building is now owned by Thompson Electric and used as a warehouse. An earlier cheese factory was located about a half kilometre south of the village on the Bighill Road where the Mobile Home Park is located. It was known as the Seeley’s Bay Cheese Company. This factory was originally owned by John Chapman and later purchased by Robert Gardiner. It burned in the mid 1890s.

Although farmers had been producing cheese in home dairies for several decades it was not until the 1860s that cheese production became an agricultural mainstay in Leeds County.

The factory system of cheese production which was developed and refined in New York State in the 1850s spread rapidly throughout the state and into Ontario. In 1866 Pitt W. Strong, an enterprising 27 year-old from Evans Mills, NY, began making cheese in Athens, Ontario; soon factories began to spring throughout Leeds County.

One of the early factories was the Pine Grove Cheese Factory which was began operation in 1871 south of Seeley’s Bay on the hillside overlooking the site of the present day mobile home park. This factory was eventually purchased by Robert Gardiner; it operated as the Seeley’s Bay Cheese Factory until 1917 when it was destroyed by fire.

In 1895 Dr. Bowen and a group of farmers in the Seeley’s Bay area formed the Gilt Edge Cheese and Butter Company and opened a new cheese factory on George Moore’s farm at the west end of the village. With new equipment and the latest production methods this factory produced high quality cheese and butter under the management of cheese maker, Joseph McAlonan.

Each year, after the close of the cheese production season the Gilt Edge Dairy (as it was later known) held an oyster dinner for its patrons (farmers who supplied milk to the factory) in the Masonic Hall.

In 1908 the factory was sold to Joseph McAlonan who built a new house adjacent to the factory; McAlonan operated the factory until his untimely death in 1935 from which time it was operated by his sons, Bernard and Edmond. It was later sold to Ken Elliott but the era of small independent cheese factories was drawing to a close. The factory was purchased by Ault Milk Products in 1959 and was converted to a reception depot for milk that was shipped to Winchester, Ontario for processing.

In 1979 the property was sold to Thompson Electric and the factory building was converted into a warehouse.

Seeley's Bay Heritage Walking Tour - 130 Mill Street
  1. TOUR STOP 2: Seeley's Bay Wharf and the Rideau Queen - 130 Mill St.
  2. TOUR STOP 3: Seeley's Bay Saw Mill (Hartley's) - 136 Mill St.
  3. TOUR STOP 4: The Plane Crash - 130 Mill St.
  4. TOUR STOP 5: Horse Racing and Ice Cutting on the Bay
  5. TOUR STOP 6: The Dr. Christie House - 148 Mill St.
  6. TOUR STOP 7: The National Hotel - 160 Main St.
  7. TOUR STOP 8: The Brown House- Bootlegger - 179 Main St.
  8. TOUR STOP 9: Home of John Bracken - 172 Main St.
  9. TOUR STOP 10: The Hotchkiss House Murder - 196 Main St.
  10. TOUR STOP 11: Coleman's Hotel - 152 Main St.
  11. TOUR STOP 12: Dr. Gardiner House- presently Ridgway Confections - 159 Main St.
  12. TOUR STOP 13: The Bank - 148 Main St.
  13. TOUR STOP 14: Stage Coach Depot/ George Cheetham's Blacksmith Shop - 103 Bracken St.
  14. TOUR STOP 15: Kelly’s Fresh Mart formerly Sweets - 144 Main St.
  15. TOUR STOP 16: St. Peter's Anglican Church - 155 Main St.
  16. TOUR STOP 17: Dr. Bowen's House -145 Main Street
  17. TOUR STOP 18: Seeley's Bay Masonic Hall - 108 Adelaide St.
  18. TOUR STOP 19: Seeley's Bay United Church - 129 Hellen St.
  19. TOUR STOP 20 - A. Neal and Son, Brick and Tile Co. Circa 1900 - 109 Hellen St.
  20. TOUR STOP 21: A.J. Sly's Furniture and Undertaking - 140 Main St.
  21. TOUR STOP 22: Gilbert Carriage Works - 129 Main St.
  22. TOUR STOP 23: Gilt Edge Cheese Factory - 118 Main St.
  23. TOUR STOP 24: Sunny Acres- The Ashery - 119 Haskins Point Rd.
  24. TOUR STOP 25: Haskins Point - 148 Haskins Point Rd.