History of White Carnation from 1895 to Today

The White Carnation at one time was the backbone of the community.  

It has been beautifully restored and converted standing strong today. There were cheese factories like it in almost every farming community.  Few remain in operation as most have been torn down. The building was constructed  with three layers of brick walls and a gable roof. It is said to have as many as three cement floors in places reaching almost 6 feet in depth. 

This area is also widely known for its history with the  famous cartoon animator, Walt Disney.  The great grandfather of the famed cartoonist built the first gristmill and sawmill in the same area before 1842.  Walt Disney visited Holmesville, Goderich and Bluevale in an attempt to trace his ancestoral roots in 1947.  All he found were the crumbling remains of the log cabin in Holmesville where his grandparents married in 1857, according to the London Free Press article. (February 5, 1985)

The Holmesville Cheese and Butter Factory began operations in May 1895 with nearly 100 local farmers involved in its initiation as a joint stock factory (purchase price $25.00 for the property). Seven cheeses were made from 4,500 lbs. of milk taken in the first day. The first cheese maker was Edward Johnson and the last was Melville Elliott. The cheese manufactured here went as far away as Montreal and Great Britain.

The boiler was added 19 years later in 1914. The boiler doors from the cheese factory days have been retained and set in brickwork.

In 1917 the cheese factory was sold to the Imperial Cheese Company for $1,600.00. The building was then T-shaped with breathers on the roof. In 1920 McLaren Imperial Cheese Ltd. ran the factory and in 1925, Kraft McLaren.

1925 saw the Holmesville Co-operative Cheese and Butter Company taking over. During the depression, the cheese factory provided a market for the farmers but it was not until the war years, 1944-45, that the market reached its peak. Under the directorship of Mel Elliott the factory produced 620 Ton per year, at that time the largest maker per year in Canada.

In 1946 the cheese factory was sold to the Carnation Milk Company and the building was converted to the milk hold depot for the bulk factory in Aylmer where evaporated milk was processed. The Holmesville plant was closed in 1972 so that bulk milk could be delivered directly to Aylmer.

In 1972 the building was once again converted, this time as a private facility for catering by Bob Norman and Bruce Rathwell., and renamed the “White Carnation”.

In 1994 Lyall and Karin Mabon took The White Carnation to another level with extensive renovations. With hard work Lyall and Karin continued to keep the White Carnation as a 'sought after destination.' They were successful proprietors from 1994 to 2017, 22 years of excellent service.

In respect to its history, the exterior of the building has been restored to resemble the 'Old Cheese Factory'.  We consider it an honour to have The White Carnation welcoming visitors from close and afar.  We look  forward to serving you at "The White Carnation".

Corinne & Noriel