News Local

Kapsters’ Memories of the Community Dairy

Julie Latimer


Curator – Ron Morel Memorial Museum


So many Kapsters shared their stories about the Community Dairy and its Coffee Bar that I thought we should begin the year with their fond reminiscences about those businesses!

Susan (nee Wright) Divall: “In the 1950s, we lived on Egerton Street and walked to/from school. In winter, we were excited when we saw the dairy’s horse and sleigh; we’d run to catch up and the milkman would let us ride on the runners a ways. It was such fun and we would run the rest of the way home for lunch. By the end of our lunch break, the milkman had delivered our 4 quarts of whole milk to the shelf in the garage. Some days the cream had risen like a butte with the cardboard cap sitting a couple of inches above the bottle top. Mum always skimmed the cream into a jug to use in their coffee.

When the roads were bare of snow, the milk wagon had rubber tires. This wasn’t as much fun for us since we couldn’t ride on it. I treasure these memories as part of an innocent childhood. I’m sure it was repeated by kids all over town.”

Michael Wade: “During the war, milk bottles had cardboard bottle caps with a little tab to pull the cap from the bottle. There was a picture drawing on the cap with the name of the dairy. We kids used to take the caps off, wash them and flatten them so that we could play with them like alleys. You had to flick the cap with your fingers so that it would sail off in front of you about 3 feet. If it landed on someone else's cap, you won and got both caps back. It was fun because all the dairies had different logos on the cap and I remember winning one that had a Timmins Dairy logo on it.”

From Isabel (nee Poolton) McDonald: “I worked in the Dairy Bar in the summer of 1949 when I graduated from KHS. The manager of the Dairy was Stewart Urquhart.  He lived upstairs in the dairy building. The other apartment was occupied by Larry Norman (barber at the Kap Inn), his wife Eve and their two children, Lorraine and Gary. The Coffee Bar was run by the CNIB and my boss was Mrs. Benson. She managed both the Coffee Bar and the Soda Fountain in the Community Club, which was owned by Spruce Falls. I also worked at the Soda Fountain, which served the greatest ice cream sodas. The Coffee Bar served canned soup, hamburgers, hot dogs, and bacon and eggs. It was always busy; customers especially loved the coffee.”

Lorne Duquette: “For several summers and on weekends while at KHS, I worked at the Community Dairy. Back in the mid-1950s, I earned $2.00 a day, and I was probably the best bottle washer that ever worked there!

Richard Thompson regularly dropped in at the dairy for a pint of chocolate milk; two unnamed employees decided to play a trick on Richard. They spiked his pint of chocolate milk with the laxative ex-lax; since the chocolate milk looked normal, Richard drank it and enjoyed it as usual.

However, Richard wasn’t around for the next day or so; when he did return for more chocolate milk, he wondered why he had been sick with a bout of the runs. At the time, an explanation was not provided, but today in 2017, the mystery of Richard’s illness is solved!”

Wanda (nee Coffey) Stratton: “I have many memories of the dairy because my mom was the owner of Mary's Coffee Shop for quite a few years. When Mom first took it over, we tried to talk her into calling it "Coffey's Coffee Shop" but she thought that was a bit much!
I spent many happy hours working and learning alongside my Mom, meeting people, selling milk, etc., when I was a teenager. She employed a number of my friends who worked part-time for her during school breaks. We were kept pretty busy mid-mornings and afternoons serving coffee, sweets and cigarettes to the fellows from Spruce Motors and the ladies from Grant's Laundry & Dry Cleaning. If their breaks overlapped, it would cause quite a crush at the counter, but they usually left with a smile.”

Stewart Carley: “This was circa 1956 or so. Going to the Dairy Bar with my dad (Len Carley, co-owner of Radio Electronics) for hot chocolate and toast, or a milkshake was heaven. We sat on stools at the counter which was so high that even the stools were up a whole step from the floor. The milk coolers were stainless steel and had real fridge pull-down handles. There was a Hamilton Beach “shaker”, a flat grill, and a four-or-more-slice toaster. People came and went, getting sandwiches and coffee to go, or they would take a stool and join the scene.

Mary Coffey (real name) ran the place. Her hair was up in a roll at the back. She could have been in the movie “Mildred Pierce” as either the Joan Crawford or Eve Arden role.
Spruce Motors was across the street so there were car salesmen, mechanics and customers waiting for their repairs in the Dairy Bar. And with the Falardeau Block next door, there was always a good crowd for breakfast, sandwiches, food off the grill and lots of coffee.”

George Franko: “Mike Anderson, Teddy Ullyot, and my brother Louis and I were introduced to pineapple milkshakes (still my favourite) and banana splits at the Coffee Bar. With our newspaper route money, we’d splurge on one or the other of those treats on the way to school a few times a week. Today, I sometimes have a banana split for supper as I reminisce of youthful times gone by!”

Brad Paxton: “Mary Coffey made take-out lunches for young mill workers.”

Rich Ferguson: “The dairy’s horse-drawn sled provided us with all the road hockey pucks we needed during the winter.”

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane! Now, I’m going to follow George Franko’s idea and have a banana split for supper! Happy New Year!