Granny Wale's Fine Dairy Products
(originally published in Old Langford, An Illustrated History, 1850-1950)
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Captain Langford's inventory of his English village in the forest includes his "Dairy and cheese house of stone walls, 18 inches thick, oiled and plastered with 3 glazed windows, fitted up inside with brick benches 24 ft. by 16 ft." He valued it at £80. The original stone foundations are to be moved and the dairy restored as a heritage site nearby on Goldstream Avenue.
(Image B-04588 Courtesy of BC Archives - Adjusted from Original)
"I can still visualize Grandmother Wale with a cream skimmer in her hand, transferring that thick yellowish, heavy cream into a bowl."
That's how Hazel Scafe, a young granddaughter of William and Ann Wale, begins her recollections of the old stone dairy at Colwood farm. Her grandparents leased the entire Langford farm from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1891, when the 30-year old Langford home was deteriorating but the dairy was still intact. It was used by Ann Wale for storing milk, dairy produce or meat. Her reputation for fine quality dairy products was widespread Hazel was the daughter of Alice Mary Maude Wale and William Scafe. She remembers feeling privileged when Granny Wale allowed her into 'the milk house' to watch her grandmother at work.
"Her skimmer was a wide slightly beveled tin instrument with perforations on the surface allowing the milk to run through while cream remained in the skimmer. Several wide tin milk pails, some almost eighteen inches in diameter and eight inches deep, lined the shelves of the dairy."
"Grandmother Wale also made cheese at the farm. She heated milk in the huge copper boiler, tested for temperature, then added rennet [a curdling agent]. As the curds separated from whey they were removed from the heat, poured through the strainer, then into presses lined with cheesecloth while clamps were tightened to remove the remaining whey. Somehow she knew when to remove cheeses from the press. Pieces were wrapped and waxed and stored in the dairy for curing."
"Granny was reluctant to allow anyone entrance to her milk house. She was clean and meticulous when it came to preparation and handling of dairy products. She also insisted on keeping several good milk cows to supply her need for top grade butter, her specialty, and to feed hungry calves for market."
For most of her life Hazel was the proud owner of one of the many earthenware bowls used to set milk in to cool. It was about fourteen inches across and four inches deep, white inside with yellow glaze, and also used for baking her rice or bread puddings. Grandfather Wale, noted for bargain hunting, bought a number of these bowls, several 'slightly misshapen near the rim.'
A new development is planned for this site. The original stone foundations are to be moved and the dairy restored as a heritage site nearby on Goldstream Avenue. Read some news stories about the future of the dairy and some recent finds.
- November 2, 2012 - There's a hole in the bucket
- May 8, 2012 - Historic dairy building moving to front of development property on Goldstream Avenue
- October 28, 2011 - Developer to preserve 160-year-old dairy in Colwood