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.
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]
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]
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.