Historic Sites of Manitoba: Modern Dairy Building (738 St. Joseph Street, Winnipeg)
On 1 October 1920, Modern Dairy Limited was founded by Alfred Arthur De Cruyenaere at his home at 209 La Verendrye in St. Boniface. An additional structure was built next to the house in 1922. Initial production focused on wholesale milk and cream, later expanded to include butter. His annual income of $8,000 had increased to $400,000 within six years of adding butter production. The company incorporated via Letters Patent on 1 April 1927, and it entered the retail market. From an initial capitalization of $40,000 (400 shares of $100 each), it had increased to $200,000 by 1928.
In 1929, Modern Dairy engaged local architect Edward Parkinson and contractor Firmin Wyndels to design and construct a modest building at the corner of Rue St. Joseph and Rue La Verendrye, across the street from De Cruyenaere’s home. The exterior featured Fort William red brick and Tyndall stone trimmings, and the interior was decorated in an array of red and white tilework by John Fabris & Sons. The initial frontage was 122 feet (along St. Joseph Street) and depth of 264 feet (La Verendrye Street). Built and outfitted at a cost of around $250,000, construction accounted for a little less than half that sum. The remaining cost was for equipment to clean and sterilize milk bottles, and to pasteurize, cool, and bottle the milk for sale. This new facility opened officially on 31 December 1929.
In May 1931, the company was merged with St. Andrews Dairies of West Kildonan and the new company operated under the Modern Dairy name, with De Cruyenaere as Vice-President and James W. Speirs (formerly Assistant General Manager of Crescent Creamery) as General Manager and President. The other directors of the company were Andrew R. McNichol and his employees George M. Hay and William E. Loftus. By 1935, some 175 dairy farms fed into the Modern Dairy supply chain, with a majority coming from the 800-cow herd of the Manitoba Dairy Farms at Marchand. Another notable supplier was the Parkdale Dairy Farm (also known as Model Dairy Farm) which had a herd of 310 cattle on 2,200 acres of land.
Over the years, adjacent lots were purchased to allow the original building to be expanded to its present configuration. Later owners of the facility were Beatrice Foods and Parmalat. The building was vacated in 2017 and demolished in February 2019.
Photos & Maps
“Another International,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 April 1927, page 30.
“Modern Dairy’s new home will be model plant,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 July 1929, page 6.
“Canada’s finest creamery new building now in operation,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 31 December 1929, page 7.
“Canada’s finest creamery in new home,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 31 December 1929, page 8.
“Big dairy industry had small start,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 31 December 1929, page 9.
“Company took five first prizes for its butter at Royal Winter Fair,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 January 1930, page 6.
“Modern Dairy Ltd. opens handsome new plant with latest equipment,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 January 1930, page 7.
“From one truck to Canada's finest creamery in six years - shows phenomenal grown of dairy,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 26 February 1930, page 66.
“Many Winnipeg women leaders in business,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 29 May 1930, page 7.
“City syndicate purchased two local dairies,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 29 May 1930, page 7.
“Romance and reality of Winnipeg’s supply of milk,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 4 August 1934, page 5.
“This is why Modern Dairies milk is so good,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 September 1935, page 31.
“Fine quality dairy farms send their product to the Modern Dairies Limited,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 September 1935, page 31.
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 658M - Modern Dairy Limited, Archives of Manitoba.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
We thank Murray Peterson for providing information used here.
Page revised: 15 February 2019
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