Posts Tagged ‘dairy cows’


Last week, I undertook a road trip to points west of here. While travelling the back roads on my way up to Peterborough, I spotted a herd of…big, mud-coloured cows? Water buffalo! This was a first. I can’t recall ever having seen water buffalo hanging around the pastures of Ontario before. I stopped and took a few pictures.

This pair seemed to be enjoying a good soak. The appearance of the others suggested they regularly partook of this pleasure too.


When I got home, I turned to Google, and soon learned that I had stumbled upon the Ontario Water Buffalo Co.. Located north of Stirling, Ontario, the farm keeps a herd of water buffalo for milk production. Their website offers this information:

The water buffalo is an incredible species and is the primary source of dairy in many countries. In Italy there are more water buffalo milked than holsteins in Ontario. There are about 170 million water buffalo worldwide with two types; swamp and river. Swamp are primarily used for meat and draught while river is best for milking. As calves they range from 80-100 pounds while the adults reach up to weights of 2600 pounds.

I never knew. Now I do.


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Upper Canada Village is a 60 acre re-creation of pioneer life, set on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, east of Morrisburg, Ontario. The forty heritage buildings are populated by a host of costumed interpreters who offer visitors a glimpse into Ontario’s past. One of the houses is called the Physician’s House, pictured above.


The house displays equipment typical of the early days of medicine in 1860s Ontario, when the treatment of patients was limited and crude by today’s standards. Compared to the more humble homes of other community members, such as the shoemaker, the physician’s house is quite comfortable.


One of the prettiest features of the house is the oval window in the front bedroom. The house style is recorded as Neo-Grec, a form of neoclassicism that replaced the rounded, Italianate features and flowery details of earlier Greek Revival buildings with a squarer, more geometric form.

The house wasn’t a doctor’s house in its former life, however. It was originally the home of Michael Cook, and was moved to Upper Canada Village from its location in Aultsville at the time of the Seaway expansion. Aultsville was one of the “Lost Villages” that were submerged when the St. Lawrence Seaway and International Hydro Electric project required the flooding of the region.


The former owner of the house, Michael Cook, was a man of note. A prosperous farmer in the region, he is remembered now with a marker at the Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary, near the former site of Aultsville. His achievement? In 1881, he imported the first Holstein Friesian cattle into Canada.


In 1981, the centennial of the event was commemorated on the same marker. The plaque notes that the cattle from this shipment formed the foundation of the Holstein breed in Canada. Today, about 90% of dairy cows in Canada are Holsteins.


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