Canadian Cheese: A World Favourite

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Canadian cheese at the World's Fair

While Canadian Cheddar garnered top honours at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, one notorious cheese entered the record books for quite another reason. With an eye on promoting Canada's finest, the Dominion Department of Agriculture issued a challenge to 12 Ontario cheese factories: to make the world's biggest cheese.

Big it was: 22,000 lb. of premium Canadian Cheddar, measuring 6 ft. high and 28 ft. in circumference. Ten thousand patriotic cows gave up their milk for three days to make the Mammoth, also known as "Le Fromage Éléphant". It was so enormous that none of the participating factories could contain it. Made in a Canadian Pacific freight shed, the Mammoth was brought to the fair on a special train, drawing crowds at every stop. At the fair, the Mammoth immediately asserted its authority by crashing through the floor.

In 1995, the grocery chain Loblaws made a sequel to The Mammoth by commissioning Québec's Agropur to manufacture "The World's Biggest Cheese".

The Cheddar was so big, in fact, that it dwarfs even the Mammoth. Over 26 t in weight, it required 266,000 L of milk to complete. It measured 6 ft. high, 32 ft. long and 4-1/2 ft. wide, and represented the average amount of cheese eaten by 2,500 Canadians in one year.

The prestige of Canadian cheese

While Canadian Cheddar continues to be much sought after, a variety of Canadian cheeses have won numerous prizes, most notably at the prestigious World International Cheese Competition in Wisconsin. Perhaps the highest honour was attained in 1986 when a Canadian Cheddar made by Ault Foods Ltd. was declared the World's Finest Cheese.

All this changed with the Second World War, as waves of immigrants began arriving on our shores. Suddenly there was a demand for Feta, Edam and Mozzarella, for Provolone, Munster and Raclette. And where there's a demand, there's the ingenuity and will to meet it. Canadian cheesemakers, including many from Europe, soon mastered the techniques. Today, these “ethnic” cheeses are enjoyed by all Canadians regardless of their background.

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