Saturday, 8 July 2017

Museum Highlights: Milk Can and Milk Bottles

Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove often brings to mind images of beaches with rolling capelin, the rooms down in Logy Bay, and the coastline of Marine Drive. But there is a tradition of farming in the area, with family who never fished but rather helped to feed the area and St. John's.
Pint milk bottle donated by Laura Rose [001.3.4].
Throughout the museum there are artifacts that reflect this agricultural history of the museum. Milk bottles can be found throughout the museum, and in the agricultural section of the museum, there is a large milk can that would have been transported in to St. John's daily, filled with fresh milk.
Half pint milk bottles donated by Judy Smith [996.8.2].

In a 1982 issue of Decks Awash, Cyril Pine talks about his dairy farm in Outer Cove. The dairy farm was stated about 185 years ago by his grandfather, William Pine. Cyril recalled how in the 1920s, cows were milked by hand, with the milk going into a bucket. The milk would be strained into large metal cans and those were kept in a well so they would stay cold. He and his mother would go door-to-door in St. John's with 8 or 9 gallons of milk from their four cows. They would take about an hour to drive into St. John's with the horse and cart and a couple of milk cans. Women would come out the to cart and use a dipper to take what they wanted out of the can. In the 1930s, milk bottles were introduced. This meant that Cyril had more work to do as every day empty bottles were picked up from customers, taken back to be cleaned and sterilized, and refilled to be delivered. Every day around 30 bottles would have to be cleaned to be ready for the next day's delivery. It was rare for most dairy deliveries to regularly visit the same homes, but Cyril notes that while he met a lot of women in town, he did have a regular stop at Miss Meehan's house. Isabel Green of Point Verde, Placentia Bay, was working there as a cook, and on September 15th, 1937, Father Dan O'Callahan in Outer Cove, married Cyril and Isabel.
From LeMessurier 1982.
In a 2007 interview with Charlie Power as part of a project called "If These Walls Could Talk...", Charlie talks about his family's dairy farm. It was mostly dairy, but they did produce some vegetables and eggs. The focus was on dairy production, and the farm at one point supplied milk and eggs to St. Clare's Hospital in St. John's. Each day, Charlie and his father would go into town with the milk, and each day Charlie would have to clean and sterilize the 80 bottles needed for the hospital the next day. Charlie and his brother, Kevin, took over the farm years later, and around 1998, they sold off the cattle, but kept the land in Rocky Hills, Logy Bay.
Milk can donated by Charlie Power [006.6.7].
Charlie tells how there were a few dairy farms in the area; his in Logy Bay, Kelley's Farm and Pine's Farm in Outer Cove, Roche's Farm in Middle Cove, and later, in the 1950s, Rose's Farm which can be seen from Logy Bay Road.

Milk bottled donated by Richolas Roche [996.2.4]. Mr. Roche believes these bottles were owned by Cyril Pine.

The artifacts of this dairying tradition housed in the museum remind us that there is more to Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove than just fishing, but also a long history of agriculture and keeping St. John's fed.

Stay tuned to the museum facebook and twitter. We're updating our agriculture exhibit this summer, and will be having some agriculture themed events and activities to celebrate this part of our history.

LeMessurier, S.L. (ed.)
1982 Pine's Pints and Quarts. Decks Awash, 11(1):15.

Power, C. and M. Power (interview)
2007 If These Walls Could Talk...: A Collection of Interview Reports of Local Residents of the Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. On file: LBMCOC Museum Archives.

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