Empire Cheese, Incorporated was founded in 1876. It was originally located on John Haig’s farm, who was known to be the first cheese maker in his area. It was originally known as just Empire Cheese Factory. After a few years, a second cheese factory was constructed on the eastern part of the company’s current facility. Among the cheese makers who worked in the second plant were Charles Stephens, Bob Maybee, Tom Naylor and Jack Kitchen.
In 1952, disaster hit the Kimberly Cheese Factory when it was destroyed by fire. A year later, Empire Cheese and Kimberly Cheese joined together and became what is now known as Empire Cheese and Butter Co-operative. The present cheese facility was built that same year. Les Shilinglaw was the cheese maker for the facility and was followed by Don Pollock. After Pollock, Mark Erwin became the facility’s cheese maker and is still the current cheese maker to this day.
Empire Cheese and Butter Co-op is the sole cheese manufacturing facility operating in the area of Northumberland County. It is also the first cheese company that has a facility located east of Toronto. Empire Cheese takes pride in being a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) registered business and manufacturing facility.
Most of the co-op’s products are sold at its factory store as well as in different outlets primarily located in Ontario. Empire Cheese is currently owned by dairy farmers who vote every year in order to determine who will be running the co-op.
Despite more than a hundred years of existence, Empire Cheese still maintains its basic processes in making cheeses. The cheeses are still created in vats that are always open, giving the curd and cheese a distinct, but better flavor. Additives are not put in the cheeses and artificial flavors are not added to the cheddar cheese. Empire Cheese takes pride in its all-natural cheeses.
Even if the cheese-making process is done traditionally, the packing process is done with the help of modern facilities, resulting in products that are vacuum-packed and of excellent quality.
Headquarters: Campbellford, Ontario
Ownership Type: Private
Employees: information not available
Demography: retail cheese consumers