Truro Condensed Milk Co.

As Mission once had a flourishing dairy industry, this city made a good location for a factory producing milk products. Mission was sought out by an Eastern Canadian company from Truro, Nova Scotia, who were responsible for opening the first condensed milk factory in Canada. They sent John D. Murray to open the factory in 1904, and Truro Condensed Milk Factory opened later that year, located in a building that once housed the Western Condensed Milk Company which closed in 1903. The building was located close to the Fraser River near the CPR train bridge.

Milk for the factory was sourced from farms all the way from Dewdney to Fort Langley, which was collected in cans and transported on a steam boat called the Lark. Upon arrival, the milk was tested and then sterilized by boiling. Truro Condensed Milk Factory produced condensed milk, evaporated cream, and cocoa. Mission Museum has one of the cocoa tins produced at Truro in our collection, pictured at the bottom of this article. The condensed milk was packaged as Reindeer Brand Condensed Milk, as seen in the can below.

Condensed milk is milk that has had much of its water removed, which creates a more shelf-stable product. Its popularity began after the civil war, when condensed milk was issued as field rations and returning soldiers drove a demand for it. The product is made through vacuum evaporation, using pressure to remove moisture at a lower temperature than boiling, which reduces the chance of scalding the milk.

King-Beach Mfg. Co.

As Mission once was a major berry producer in the Fraser Valley, it was only logical to have a jam factory in town to process the abundance of locally-grown fruit. Setting up in the building that once was the Western Condensed Milk Factory (and the Truro Condensed Milk Factory), and the former site of the Agricultural Fair, the Kootenay Jam Factory opened in 1911. This jam factory moved down from the Nelson area on the direction of the manager Harry Beach, as Mission was recognized for its berry output. Beach took over the company in 1915, and joined forces with an English chocolate maker named Richard King. Their original plan was to produce jam from the fresh berries in the summer months, and then pivot to chocolate production in the off-season.

However, when WWI broke out, the King-Beach Mfg. Co. decided to produce jam only to fill the demand of preserves for soldier’s field rations. In order to produce large volumes of jam at a reduced price during wartime, King-Beach shipped in apples from BC’s interior via rail to make the jam stretch further, in varieties of strawberry-apple or plum apple. Overall, strawberry jam was the primary variety.

Later, the company expanded and added a division to freeze the incoming fruit to prevent spoilage before canning, even though most of the berries were supplied by Mission farmers. Anglo B.C Packing bought out King-Beach in 1922, but only operated for two years until Canadian Canners took their place. They operated until 1957, and after closing, Mission was no longer home to canning factories of any kind.

Diamond Dairy

Diamond Dairy in Mission was known as Blue Ribbon Dairy before it was bought out by Hugh Terise, owner of Diamond Dairy in Haney. The FVMPA took over the business in 1958. Formerly located on Main Street (now First Avenue), the business carried a complete line of milk and cream products, and offered a home delivery service.

The artifact representing this business is the milk token shown in the gallery below. Beginning in the late 19th century, milk tokens first were used as monetary substitutes, especially in times of currency shortages. They functioned not only as an advertising medium, but also as a convenient way of securing pre-payment for milk deliveries to the home.

Bowie’s Bakery

Bowie’s Bakery was a beloved small family-owned business that was once located at 33031 First Avenue. The all-brick building was constructed by Albert Bryant Catherwood in 1925 to replace the earlier wooden building next door. Catherwood was a building contractor who oversaw many important projects in Mission, and was involved in local politics as Reeve from 1938-1951.

Bowie’s Bakery was owned and operated by John Bowie until his passing in 1931, when his son Ian took over the business until 1947. It was then sold to Mr. and Mrs. Theo Kell who operated the business as the Bakerette. The bakery storefront was on the ground level entrance, while offices were upstairs. Bread was prepared upstairs at the back of the building, and fresh bakery goods were transported down to the storefront via elevator. Similar to the Diamond Dairy milk token, the Mission Museum has a bread token from Bowie’s. At this time, merchants of general stores, bakeries, and dairies used tokens for customer convenience.

Mission Springs Brewing

The Mission Springs Brewing Company has been in operation since October 1996, and is located along the Lougheed Highway overlooking the Fraser River. It is a 10 barrel brew house that features a selection of core beers (pale ale, lager, stout, radler, and pilsner) and seasonal beers throughout the year. The company opened a location in the Itaweon district of Seoul, Korea in June 2013, and a second location in the Cheongdam area of Seoul in November 2013. The brewery released a Celebration Ale in 2017 to commemorate Mission’s 125th anniversary (see bottle in gallery below). Mission Springs represents a local businesses that got its start in recent decades, and continues to brew for the community to the present day.