Sunday, July 17, 2011

Alexander Ferguson MacLaren was the Grand Fromage of 1900s Canadian Political Cheesemakers

Alexander Ferguson MacLAREN, M. P. for North Perth, was born in Perth, County of Lanark, on February 3rd, 1854. He is the son of John MacLaren, his mother being Ellen Buchanan Ferguson. Some of what I know about this man and these antique stoneware cheese pots comes from History of the County of Perth, 1825-1902
William Johnston, 1903. pp.548 and 551-552.

Dumpdiggers knows that Alexander MacLaren was a cheese buyer for a major cheese importer in the 1870s who soon after became cheesemaker in the 1880s.

In 1892 this man introduced a new dairy product to the world, "MacLaren's Imperial Cheese." which may have been a more spreadable food product, as it was contained in the ceramic jar seen below (after KRAFT bought it?). For distributing this perishable food product, several offices were eventually set-up in Toronto, New York, London (England), Chicago, Detroit, Mexico, China, Japan and Africa.

This one food product made Alex Maclaren rather famous, also his skill as cheese critic and buyer and seller for example although still a young man, he was chosen as sole judge in the cheese department at the Chicago World's Fair. Canadians carried off many honours at the event.

Alexander MacLaren was a busy man. He was president of the A. F. MacLaren Imperial Cheese Co., limited; president Imperial Veneer Co., Toronto and Sudbury; president Imperial Wood Fibre Plaster Co., of Toronto; director of Slate and Cement Co., Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. with capital holdings exceeding $2,000,000. He was also director of the Industrial Fair Board, Toronto, and chairman of Dairy Committee; he was also president of the Western Dairymen's Association from 1896 and 1897.

On April 29, 1885, Alex MacLaren married Miss Janet McLeod. Shortly after marriage MacLaren become active in politics. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the electoral district of Perth North at the general elections of 1896. A Conservative, he was re-elected in 1900 and 1904. He was defeated in 1908. MacLaren died in 1917 in Toronto from kidney problems. In 1920, MacLaren's cheese company was purchased by J. L. Kraft and Brothers Company.


Aaron said...

Do you have an email I can contact you at? I have a question about one of your posts from 2009.

Robert Campbell said...

sure Aaron, email me, roberrific AT hotmail DOT com

discodiva1979 said...

I actually own this very piece of stoneware-any idea of the value?