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A New Century (1900-1920)

Wilbur Gerow's Trophy

Gerow Trophy

Wilbur Gerow's Trophy for Cheesemaking, presented in 1908
from the Northern Crown Bank

Born in Prince Edward County in 1852, Wilbur Firman Gerow was the son of George Gerow, a carpenter, and Diana Delong. Wilbur Gerow would become an award making cheesemaker in Lennox & Addington County. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

On the 1881 Canadian Census, Wilbur Gerow and his family were still living in Prince Edward County. His profession was recorded as "miller." Wilbur F. Gerow is listed on an 1890 Voters List for Picton, but by the 1891 Census, he and his family moved to North Fredericksburgh where he worked as a cheesemaker.

Several cheese factories had been established in Lennox & Addington before Wilbur Gerow arrived. By 1871, Newburgh, Selby, and Switzerville all featured cheesemakers, and by 1891, factories had opened in Camden East, Centerville, Colebrook, Conway, Enterprise, Napanee, Parma, Roblin, Tamworth, and Violet. By the twentieth century, the county boasted 32 factories, producing more than six million pounds of cheese per year. The Gerow Family was associated with multiple cheese factories, with Wilbur managing the Palace Road, Excelsior, and Empey factories, and his son Frank managing the Centreville Factory.

In a typical cheese factory, milk was carried by conductors to large vats, where it would be kept cool by flowing water beneath the chamber, until the maker was ready to create cheese. When a large furnace brought the water to a temperature of 85 degrees, rennet was added to separate the milk into curds and whey, and left to stand at 96 degrees. The curd was then cooled, washed, drained, salted, and pressed, before being wrapped in a cloth and allowed to cure for several weeks.

Wilbur Gerow patented his own cheese press attachment to aid in the cheese making process. The Gerow Cheese Press Attachment was a mechanical device attachable to any upright cheese press. It consisted of a worm gearing, comprising a long horizontal shaft suspended along the front of the Press, with raised threads that meshed with worm wheels placed horizontally and revolving on vertical screws.

The cheese press attachment did not replace any existing machinery, but when used in conjunction with a standard upright cheese press, allowed for an even pressure on all cheese. It allowed a large amount of cheese to be pressed at once, and significantly reduced the labour required. This method was in use at the Palace Road Factory.

Mr. Gerow's cheese enjoy much acclaim, and at the 1890 Midland Central Fair, he was awarded a medal for the best white cheese. The two-sided medal, provided by W.J. Keeley, a jeweler from Kingston, features an engraving dedicated to W.F. Gerow obverse, and an image of a cow recto.

The 1908 annual Camden Fall Fair at Centreville, held by the Camden Agricultural Society, was one of the largest attended in recent years. The silver cup trophy, a special prize, was presented by the Northern Crown Bank at Enterprise, to Wilbur Gerow for the best cheese made and exhibited. The Northern Crown Bank had just been formed in 1908 after an amalgamation of the Northern Bank and the Crown Bank of Canada.

The trophy features three ornate curved handles attached to a flared lip bowl with a stem connected to a round base, and is engraved, "Presented by Northern Crown bank to WF Gerow - The Best Cheese September 12th 1908."

On April 19, 1923, at the age of 71 years, 7 months, Wilbur Gerow died responding to a fire at the Excelsior Cheese Factory in North Fredericksburgh that burned the factory to the ground. In 1923, the farmers bought the Centreville Factory and Frank moved his family to Newburgh. Frank's son, Grant, continued to make cheese at Moscow, Forest Mills and Tamworth.

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