Sunday, August 15, 2021

Day Trippin' Part 2

 August 2021 - Ingersoll/Woodstock/Paris ON

Click here for yesterday's outing with links to murals and Jumbo's statue in St. Thomas.

After a breakfast at the Elm Hurst Inn we headed into Ingersoll under cloudy skies. The clouds kept yesterday's oppressive heat to a comfortable level.

Ingersoll, Ont, incorporated as a town in 1865, population 12,146 (2011c). The Town of Ingersoll is situated on the THAMES RIVER, 36 km east of London. Founded as Oxford Village in 1818 by Charles Ingersoll, it was renamed Ingersoll for his father, Thomas, and incorporated as a village in 1852.

Thomas Ingersoll also happened to be the father of Laura Ingersoll Secord, a Canadian heroine. Click here to visit her home in Queenston ON.

Its economy, based initially on the export of wheat and hardwood lumber, shifted to the production of cheese and agricultural implements in the mid-1860s. Ingersoll was the commercial centre for Canada's first cheese export trade and the Canadian Dairymen's Assn was founded there (1867).

First stop the Ingersoll Cheese & Agricultural Museum, we waited for it to open and were the only visitors. It was first opened on August 27, 1977, consisting of a re-creation of a 19th century cheese factory. 

A former barn had been dismantled and the pieces moved to Centennial Park, where they were re-assembled in the shape and design of a typical cheese factory in Oxford County.
The museum was started as a way to pay tribute to the significant cheese making history of Oxford County and the town of Ingersoll. While the building is a replica, the contents are all from working factories.

As word of the new cheese factory museum spread, donors came forward to offer a variety of farm implements and other devices related to the production of milk and cheese. It wasn’t long before a second building, the North Barn, was moved to the site.

Over the next few years, other buildings were moved to the museum grounds, including a blacksmith shop, the large Sherbrooke Barn, and a newer building that currently houses the Oxford County Museum School.

We started in the agricultural museum, more of a historical museum. Once the guide had introduced herself we were left on our own.
The size of this popcorn machine amazed me.

Interesting name, Comfort Sage. AS I researched, I discovered Comfort was a man, born in Bloomfield NY.

His entry in Find a Grave reads: "Birth: Jun. 9, 1796 Bloomfield Richmond County (Staten Island) New York, USA Death: Apr. 5, 1887 Brantford Ontario, Canada. 
A tombstone found by Ingersoll homeowners who were recently renovating their fireplace is that of a pioneer with connections to Brant and Oxford counties, who was also a veteran of the War of 1812.
The pristine limestone grave marker of Comfort Sage, who died on April 5, 1887, at the age of 90 years and 10 months, was found by Russell and Heidi Watson. The couple had turned over a large rectangular hearthstone in their home only to discover that it was actually a tombstone.

The Mi'kmaw people have named all the moons around the year based on what's happening in nature. And one of the moons in the spring is the sugar maple moon. That's when the sugar maple trees start to produce sap.

This display says "Enrolled in God's Hall of Fame" and is dedicated to Amiee Semple McPherson whom I have never heard of. Here is a Smithsonian article about her "incredible disappearance".

Aimee Semple McPherson, née Kennedy (b at Ingersoll, Ont 9 Oct 1890; d at Oakland, Calif 27 Sept 1944). At age 17 Aimee married Robert Semple, a Pentecostal missionary who died in China in 1912. She returned with her newly born daughter to the US, married H.S. McPherson and conducted tent revivals in the Atlantic seaboard states. Her evangelistic success took her to Los Angeles in 1918 where, 5 years later, she opened her debt-free, 5000-seat, $1.25-million Angelus Temple of the Foursquare Gospel.

Photo of the Canadian Dairymen's Association.

In 1866 the town sent a 3300 kg "Mammoth Cheese" - celebrated in verse by James McIntyre, the "cheese poet" - to exhibits in NY state and England.

In the 1850s Hiram and Lydia Ranney were milking a huge herd of cows on their farm outside of Salford. Young men and women were hired to help with the milking and then taught by Lydia how to turn it into cheese. Each week she manufactured cheese in her summer kitchen and Hiram peddled it in different towns and neighboring cities.

In 1864, the first cooperatively owned cheese factory in all of Canada was started just outside Norwich Ontario, south and east of Ingersoll. By 1866 there were six of these types of factories producing a cheddar style of cheese in the county. That spring, the Ranneys, their son-in-law James Harris and George Galloway identified an opportunity to sell their cheese in Great Britain. To introduce the English to this Oxford County cheese, they combined their efforts to manufacture a giant wheel of cheese weighing over 7,000 pounds! It inspired poets and toured the British countryside before being bought and consumed. The success of this marketing gimmick led to the development of the cheese industry with the end result of there being 98 factories operating in Oxford County by the year 1900. Ingersoll became the market town for all of those factories with every box of cheese being exported bearing the name Ingersoll on its side.

6 ft. 10 in. diameter, 3 ft. high, 35 tons of milk, weight 7,000 lbs.
Photographed at Congress Springs, Saratoga, New York

Another piece of Canadiana I didn't know. Seriously, what did they teach us in school?
 In 1937, Douglas Carr (1910-1994), a shoe salesman,  traveled from Ingersoll, Ontario to England to be there for the Coronation of George VI. Once over there, he decided to ride his bicycle further. That he did, travelling across Europe, Africa, Iran, India, south-east Asia, and China. He was in Germany as Hitler rose to power. He met Dale Carnegie in China, a meeting that Carnegie related in his syndicated column. He returned home after a journey of 30 months, in time to enlist for military service during World War II.

Once we were finished here, the guide took us over the the cheese factory and explained in great detail the cheese making process.

Another selfie opportunity with The Big Cheese.

I found this great timeline. click on it to enlarge.

Mohawk Creamery

Harold Dunsdon operated the creamery from the mid-1930s until his retirement in 1971. During this time, the butter made here was of top quality, which was backed by a letter dated Sept. 2, 1964, from Everett Riggs, deputy minister of agriculture for Ontario.

Typeset to stamp the cheese as Canada.

We then went over to the Museum school.

We then drove to downtown Ingersoll and walked for a bit. There are several cheese shops in town.

Big gluten free on awning - tiny shelf of cookies inside.

Much to John's distress we had to drive down this unpaved, wet clay road to the Gunn's Artisan Cheese shop.

Had to stop for this photo.

Woodstock  - 1834, British Admiral Henry Vansittart arrived and named the village in honour of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, where he had been educated.

Time for a beer at the Upper Thames Brewery.

One of the guest taps is called Abandoned at the Altar.

The Springbank snow countess is on the Road Side America website. In 1933 she broke the world record for butterfat production and held the record for 21 years. The Snow Countess statue is located on the original site of her home, Springbank Farm, which was known world wide for their cattle breeding program.

What's better than French fries? The sign is referring to Picard's Peanuts, I mentioned in yesterday's post, they are right across the street.

The church and other buildings we saw are closed to the public at the moment due to Covid.

Old St. Paul's Church is significant for its association with Admiral Henry Vansittart (1778-1843), Captain Andrew Drew (1792-1878), and the development of the City of Woodstock. Drew came from England to Canada in 1832 as Vansittart's agent, to acquire land and invest money on his behalf. One of Drew's first undertakings was to build a brick church on one of the lots he acquired. This location was selected for the church with the intention that a town would develop around it. Vansittart and his family set out for Canada on May 1st, 1834, accompanied by Rev. Bettridge. Bettridge was sent out by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (an Anglican mission agency) to be the rector of St. Paul's. Vansittart pledged maintenance of Bettridge until other sources were available. 
When the Vansittart family and Rev. Bettridge arrived in Woodstock on June 21, 1834, the church was not finished. Vansittart and his sister, Mrs. East, donated £370 toward the church's construction; the cost of the original project was £1800.

During the Rebellion of 1837-38, St. Paul's was used as a temporary jail for suspected rebels captured by local militia. New St. Paul's Anglican Church was built at the intersection of Wellington and Dundas Streets in 1879 to accommodate the growing congregation. As a result of this relocation, Old St. Paul's was closed in 1879 and re-opened to serve the Anglican community in 1882.

The historic county jail, now the Oxford County Board of Health, is a beautiful Italianate Romanesque style building with Tuscan Gothic details.
 The building was completed in 1854, and it was the fifth county jail built by the province. 
There were several permanent resident officers at all times. There was a Gaoler or Governor, a Turnkey and a Matron. The Gaoler was in charge at the jail, responsible to the Sheriff of Oxford County. The Turnkey was to keep guard in front of the cells of the most dangerous criminals. The Matron was to make sure that no male prisoner was to enter the female departments, or anywhere that a female might be working, without her presence.
 In 1864, prisoner’s meals cost much more than what it did on the regular market. The result was to have the prisoners grow their own food in the courtyard of the jail. The prisoners did not wear the standard garb set by the province; instead, they wore what was made by local merchants, to help boost the local economy. 

The Oxford County Jail (or Gaol) holds many stories within its walls. There have been five hangings. The first was Thomas Cook, a blind man, who killed his second wife. As Woodstock's first public hangee, 3400 people showed up to see his execution. Because of his immense size, his head was decapitated from the hanging.
 His death mask was carved in stone in 1862, to the right of the front entrance door.

Elizabeth Tilford was the only female to be hanged at the Oxford County Gaol. She was convicted of murdering her third husband with arsenic. It is believed that she tried to kill her second husband as well, with what is known as “salts of lemon”. She was hanged on December 17, 1935.

Built in the 1880s and highly influenced by the Romanesque Revival style, The Oxford County Courthouse has been a landmark of monumental proportions in the county ever since. It's stately exterior and red brick was the genius of RT Brooks who designed the courthouse. However, in 1890, Brooks was fired and a new firm hired in his place. Thankfully Brooks' dream was carried out in full and much ornamentation was added.

The grotesques: While they look like monkeys, these bad boys were common, particularly on gothic churches. Different from gargoyles that have water spouts, many believe they were used to ward off evil spirits.

On the lawn of the courthouse is a statue of George MacKay who is famous for his missionary work in Taiwan. Look closely and you'll see his story woven into his famous black beard in various carvings across the statue.

George Leslie Mackay 偕瑞理 or 馬偕 Má-kai (21 March 1844 – 2 June 1901) was the first Presbyterian missionary to northern Taiwan (then Formosa). He served with the Canadian Presbyterian Mission. Mackay is among the best known Westerners to have lived in Taiwan.

We made a quick stop in Paris ON before heading home.


  1. I really enjoyed learning about the cheese factory and the agricultural museum. That bike traveled through many countries and I found it fascinating. I also enjoyed seeing how cheese was made back then. It was a great museum and I was glad you shared so many photos, too. The Snow Countess cow was quite amazing. I was impressed there was such a large statue.

    Too bad all the churches are closed due to Covid 19, but you got lots of great exterior shots. Those gargoyle like statues were a bit scary. So much to see and so little time. I will join you for a bit of chocolate, though.

  2. What a day to hang out with you. I would like to try to make cheese and yogurt.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  3. I would find that museum interesting.


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