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Donalda Creamery


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Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Donalda Creamery is a one-and-a-half-storey, light industrial building. Previously used as a machine-shop, it was moved onto this site in 1954 and converted into a creamery. At the time of the conversion, two small, vented cupolas were added to the roof and a shed-roofed addition with a stone chimney and metal stove pipe was attached to the east elevation. The south elevation features a large, boomtown front with three entryways, square windows and overhead corporate signage. The structure is clad in wood siding and shingles. An associated double garage clad in wood siding is situated to the east of the creamery. The Donalda Creamery occupies two lots on Foster Street, a gravel road in the Village of Donalda, half a block west of the former rail line and one block north of the village's main commercial street.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Donalda Creamery lies in its association with the development of the dairy industry in Alberta. It is also significant for its architecture, which is an excellent example of small-scale industrial architecture adapted for use in the dairy industry, and for the equipment it contains, which illustrates changes in dairy-processing technology and procedures.

In 1937, the Donalda Co-operative Creamery Association was formed by local producers and the owner of the existing creamery, which had been established in 1924. Numerous co-operative creameries were established throughout Alberta in the early decades of the twentieth century. Based on the successful wheat pool and grain co-op ventures, creamery co-ops allowed producers to work together to overcome the challenges presented by their geographic isolation and their economic and political remoteness from the centres of power. The Donalda Creamery produced butter and cream for consumption both locally and throughout the province. Beginning in 1946, the Central Alberta Dairy Pool attempted to absorb the Donalda Creamery, a move reflective of the consolidation of the province's small creameries under the much larger dairy pools. These overtures were resisted, and the Donalda Creamery was one of the few creameries to remain independent during the middle decades of the twentieth century.

In the 1950s, rising production and a rapidly deteriorating facility meant that a new and larger creamery was required. In 1954, a gable-roofed machine shop located across the street was purchased and moved onto the creamery's property. The open floor plan of the machine shop was ideally suited for conversion into a creamery. A shed-roofed addition, which would house an office, laboratory and boiler room, was quickly constructed. The former creamery building was torn down and the salvaged lumber was used to construct a two door truck garage. Most of the equipment from the original creamery was transferred to the new facility and new equipment was purchased, giving the Donalda Creamery a collection of dairy processing equipment covering a number of different eras. The creamery continued to use equipment from the 1920s and 1930s, notably the Babcock Tester, which is used to determine the fat content in milk; a cream tester; centrifuge; bottle holders; scales; and a cream can washer. Three churns, complete with different drive systems and vats date from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Other original equipment of differing vintages provides evidence of how dairy technology and procedures changed from the 1930s to the 1980s. When the Creamery closed in 1987, it was one of the last farmer-owned creameries operating in Alberta.

In many ways, the Donalda Creamery is typical of small-scale creameries in Alberta. The co-op's Board of Directors based the creamery's layout on observations of other creameries and on the recommendations of the Provincial Dairy Commissioner. The Donalda Creamery is a wood-framed, gable roofed building with a shed roofed addition. Two vented cupolas top the gable roof for extra ventilation, important in creamery buildings. The stepped, boomtown front on the south elevation makes the creamery an impressive presence on the street, and the three entrances facilitate the easy movement of workers, customers and cream can deliveries. Inside the creamery has an efficient layout with a clear demarcation between the building's functional areas. The main gable roof covers an open processing area, a cold storage room and a testing laboratory. The shed-roofed portion contains the creamery office, water pump and boiler room with coal storage bin. The importance of sanitation in creameries is demonstrated by the easily cleaned surfaces, including the concrete floor with drains, tin-clad walls and ceiling and sealed light fixtures.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1583)

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of the Donalda Creamery include such elements as its:

- gable-roofed main building with an attached shed-roofed addition, which is a typical form for small-scale creameries;
- two small, vented gable-roofed cupolas situated at the peak of the gable roof;
- stepped, boomtown front;
- three entry doors on the south (front) elevation and single entry door on the rear elevation which facilitate easy movement of workers, customers and deliveries in a busy environment;
- evidence of two large delivery doors, probably for coal deliveries, on the east (side) and north (rear) elevations of the shed-roofed addition, both giving access to the coal bin and boiler room;
- the overhead identification signage, which taken together read DONALDA CO-OPERATIVE CREAMERY LIMITED;
- the stone chimney and the metal stove pipe projecting through the roof of the shed-roofed addition;
- historical fenestration pattern of mostly four-paned square windows with some nine-paned square windows;
- presence of a large, gable-roofed, double garage, situated to the east of the creamery and possibly constructed of salvaged materials from the original 1924 creamery building.

- the layout which separates the functional areas of the creamery, with the work floor, testing laboratory and cooler situated in the gable-roofed portion, an office and storage area in the half-storey and the main office, pump room, boiler room and coal storage bin located in the shed-roofed portion;
- the sanitary and easily cleaned design of the work area, evidenced by the concrete floor with in-floor drains, metal-clad walls and ceilings, and sealed lighting fixtures;
- presence of original dairy processing equipment of various vintages, such as, but not limited to, the Babcock tester, cream tester, centrifuge, bottle holders, scales and cream can washer from the 1920s and 1930s; as well as three churns with drive systems and vats, which date from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.


Street Address: Foster Street
Community: Donalda
Boundaries: Lots 13 and 14, Block 1, Plan 5965AE
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
8 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
5965 AE
5965 AE

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.586071 -112.575650 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2010/03/09

Historical Information

Period of Significance:
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Historic Function(s): Industry : Food and Beverage Manufacturing Facility
Current Function(s):

The Donalda Creamery is representative of the many small creameries that were established as part of the economic base of a number of Alberta urban communities. The growth of the dairy industry in central Alberta dates from the mid-1880s when the first dairy herds were established on farms in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor. By 1897, government-managed creameries had been established in Calgary, Innisfail, Red Deer, Wetaskiwin and Edmonton. Territorial Ordinances provided for the incorporation of Butter and Cheese Manufacturing Associations, and the formation of a Dairyman's Association. A Provincial Dairy Branch was established in 1906 to inspect the butter, supervise cream grading, and provide dairy training and education. By 1923, 89 creameries were producing butter in Alberta.

Development of Donalda was tied to the settlement of the Stettler area, beginning in 1905 with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The Donalda School opened in 1911 and Donalda was incorporated as a village in 1913 on the Stettler-Camrose branch of the Canadian Northern (CN) Railway.

The privately owned Donalda Creamery began operations in 1924 with John Van Dam as manager on a site owned by George Burgess of Drumheller. Henry Paege was associated with the creamery operations from 1925 to 1948 and owned the creamery from 1937 to 1966. Paege also owned the power plant that generated electricity for the Creamery and the village from 1932 to 1942.

The Donalda Co-operative Creamery Association Ltd. was formed in 1937 to provide an organized and effective outlet for the cream production of the area. Beginning in 1957, the trend toward centralization by the large dairy pools closed many small creameries throughout Alberta. The Central Alberta Dairy Pool made numerous offers to amalgamate with the Donalda Creamery but was resisted by the association members.

The local economy of the region was dependent on the continued operation of the creamery. Over 300 farm families were shipping cream, eggs and poultry to the association. Cream was shipped to Donalda from a 300 square kilometre area that included New Norway, Edberg, Heisler, Rosalind, Stettler and Forestburg. Butter was sold under the 'Donalda Maid' label to local stores, to the Central Alberta Dairy Pool and to more distant locations such as Drumheller.

The Donalda Creamery was one of ten butter-making plants in Alberta in 1987 and one of five independent creameries. Other independent creameries were located in Calgary, Lethbridge, Pincher Creek and Castor. The Donalda Creamery continued to operate independently until its closing in 1987 due to the reduction of shippers by the cream quota system.


The Donalda Creamery building was first constructed for use as a commercial garage near Edberg. Despite its subsequent reuse as a light industrial structure housing a machine shop and, since 1954, a creamery, it retains much of its appearance as a commercial structure in a small Alberta urban community. It is a rectangular gable roofed structure with a boomtown facade. This boomtown front has been modified in a stepped fashion to conform to the roofline.

Buildings used to house creameries were typically located in gable roof, wood frame structures with shed additions. A unique design feature was the unusual number of entrances to accommodate the traffic patterns for cream cans, people and equipment. Interior space was allocated for office, laboratory, workroom and utility areas.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0644
Designation File: DES 1583
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 81393
Website Link: N/A
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1583)
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