June 4, 2018

Did you know that Canada has a history of making giant cheese? 125 years ago, the Dominion Experimental Dairy Station in Perth, Ontario, made a mammoth cheese for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Keep in mind that this 22,000 pounds (9,900 kg) cheese was made before the days of refrigerated trucks. The milk to make this cheese had to be transported by horse and wagon from various dairy farms, making it an amazing display of orchestration. In cheesemaking terms, it was definitely the big cheese! On April 17, 1893, the cheese left Perth for Chicago on a special railway flat car provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway. As the train left the station, the Perth Citizens Band played “The Maple Leaf Forever” and several hundred onlookers gave three hearty cheers. A large poster giving some particulars of the cheese and a complete time-table for the run from Perth to Windsor, was sent to all stations on the route and many people turned up to see the cheese pass by. The outside of the cheese container had to be repainted when it reached Chicago because, during the trip over 10,000 people had signed the outside of the container. When unloaded and placed on exhibit with the Canadian display at the World’s Fair in Chicago, the Mammoth Cheese promptly crashed through the floor and had to be placed on reinforced concrete in the Agricultural Building. “The Mammoth Cheese” was more talked about and written about than any other single exhibit at the fair. When judged, the cheese received 95 points out of a possible score of 100 points.

Should you be visiting Perth in the near future, note that the town has beautiful replica of the Mammoth Cheese. It is located in the Tay Basin just off Drummond Street right in the heart of downtown Perth.

For more information and cheesy details regarding this wonderful story, please consult the archived webpage housed by Library and Archives Canada, this webpage, or contact the Town of Perth.

Originally published on AAFC’s Ag & Food Wall of Fame.