Vancouver History: Avalon Dairy


Monday, January 26th, 2009 — 10:06am PST
Comments 10

For some reason this morning Avalon Dairy popped into my head and I figured that having a farm in the middle of a single-family residential neighbourhood in South Vancouver is definitely something worth exploring.


Photo credit: SqueakyMarmot on Flickr

Last year John and I did the Amazing Hunt, a really fun, local version of TV’s The Amazing Race. One of our stops was the Avalon Dairy, just off East 41st at 5805 Wales, and our task was to down several jugs of milk or eat a big tub of yogurt. Neither of us being milk drinkers (or yogurt eaters) we figured the latter was at least the safer way to go. Unfortunately, this expedited experience has been my only with Avalon Dairy although it has very deep Vancouver roots.

Jeremiah Crowley came out from Western Bay, Newfoundland in 1898 for the gold rush. Arriving in Vancouver he found the gold rush over. He was so impressed with Vancouver that he returned to Newfoundland and brought his family with him to settle here in 1906. After purchasing a house on Wales Street, which came with 6 cows, he began to build up Avalon Dairy.

The family of 12 came from Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula in 1906, “their South Vancouver farm delivered milk by dog and wagon, and registered Avalon Dairy before 1915.” [Vancouver History]


“Jeremiah Crowley (in bowler hat) with his sons
haying the back field at Avalon, circa 1931.”

Everett Crowley, son of Jeremiah, went to South Vancouver High School and worked at the dairy afterwards and became quite involved in the shaping of the city. “During WWII, opposed poll tax on non-property owners; served three days in jail.” He was also an “elected Vancouver alderman but after six weeks a recount gave opponent Arthur Phillips a 37-vote lead.” Everett would get the Dairy through the depression years and build it up to what it is today.

Crowley also served on the Parks Board from 1961-67 and Everett Crowley Park on SE Marine Drive is named after him, and it was also a stop on our Amazing Hunt tour that day.

“…we ended up on a small hill in Everett Crowley Park in South Vancouver. Looking around at all the deciduous trees and uneven landscape with amazing southern views I actually wondered if the park used to be something else. “Everett Crowley Park is Vancouver’s 5th largest park, but was Vancouver’s main landfill (the Kerr Road dump) from 1944 to 1967.” [ECPC] from [Miss604]

[Everett Crowley] served as a Town Planner and was instrumental in the creation of Killarney Park. His son Lee Crowley is an active member of the committee. The Crowley family donated $20,000 for the enhancement of Avalon Pond. [Evergreen]


SqueakyMarmot on Flickr

Avalon Dairy offers products such as certified organic milk, milk (in those signature glass bottles), butter, mozzarella cheese, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream. They also have VitalaMilk which “is BC’s only natural, healthy and locally produced milk containing DHA Omega-3 plus CLA in addition to all of the natural goodness found in milk.”

Lee Crowley, Everett’s youngest son/Jeremiah’s grandson, now runs Avalon Dairy and although it took several years to develop and perfect the organic products, with the help of Avalon’s CEO Gay Hahn they have expanded due to the great demand. “The dairy bought more cows, and more land in the Fraser Valley. Demand for organic milk outstripped production, so the dairy bought acreage on Barnston Island, and leased more land there, too. Avalon now produces 500,000 litres of milk a month, with 60 per cent of it organic.” [Vancouver Sun]

Being able to provide the classic unhomogenized, rich and creamy bottled milk (that Queen Elizabeth drinks when she’s in town) as well as keeping in step with the growing organic and all-natural movements has kept Avalon going for over 100 years and will see this Vancouver landmark shine well into the future.

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10 comments

  1. Michael says:

    Right in my ‘hood’ – literally 5 minutes from my house. Their chocolate milk is awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Miss604 says:

    Cool! Do you know if they still do tours?

  3. Very cool, I love when you dig up and post old pics Rebecca, I was born and raised here so the old snaps of Vancouver are really great to see.

  4. Amber says:

    I love their milk, but I buy it at the grocery store. I’ve never been to the farm. Reading this, I think maybe I should go and check it out.

  5. Brad says:

    Their eggnog during the holidays is the best ever.

    Just a quick side note…I am the one who originally designed their website, although that was quite a few years ago and definitely needs some updating.

    I basically did it as a freebie as their previous site was honestly one of the worst websites I had ever seen on the Internet. What I designed was not the best, but it was a quick and simple update that they desperately needed at the time.

  6. Brad says:

    Their eggnog during the holidays is the best ever.

    Just a quick side note…I am the one who originally designed their website, although that was quite a few years ago and definitely needs some updating.

    I basically did it as a freebie as their previous site was honestly one of the worst websites I had ever seen on the Internet. What I designed was not the best, but it was a quick and simple update that they desperately needed at the time.

    Also, if you click on the City of Vancouver icon on the bottom right of their homepage you can get a little more historical information.

  7. […] town you can even stop by the Avalon Dairy, or Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver (currently featuring a milking demonstration, and potbellied […]

  8. Raul says:

    JT and I ended up walking by the Avalon Dairy plant – it does seem smallish for an actual farm (we didn’t see cows or anything like that) but I assume the actual plant is still there.

    I had been desperately trying to remember where it was but since I’m not iPhone-enabled I couldn’t read your blog to find out the location ๐Ÿ™

    But it was great to see it! I told JT that you had written about Avalon Dairy and he was like “oh, NOW I get it – you wanted to check it out!” ๐Ÿ™‚

    We literally stumbled upon it because originally we were going for a walk to Killarney Park ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Jennifer says:

    I’ve recently started buying from them directly. Unfortunately they no longer have those cool, wire carrying baskets for the bottles for sale (they hold 4 or 6 bottles, depending on size of basket). If anyone in cyberspace knows where I could get one in the lower mainland, I’d much appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

  10. amfriesen says:

    Avalon Dairy opened a new plant in an industrial area of Burnaby. The address is 7985 North Fraser Way off of Byrne road. They even have a little deli where you can purchase the organic and regular products plus they’ll have an fully stocked ice cream bar for the summer. A great place to check out if you can get there (transit is difficult…at the moment).

    Maybe they’ll know where you can get the old fashion wire carrying baskets. I’ve seen customers bring them in to switch up bottles.

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