There’s a hole in the bucket

Conservation efforts at Colwood’s Dairy and Cheese House unearthed some unexpected finds as the building is prepped for moving

Stuart Stark

Conservation efforts at Colwood’s Dairy and Cheese House unearthed some unexpected finds as the building is prepped for moving.

Heritage consultant Stuart Stark approached Colwood city council at its Oct. 22 meeting to report on the project.

Developers of 468 Landmark – a two-building, 100-unit project planned for Goldstream Avenue – are moving the historic Colwood Dairy building because it is in the way of the first phase of the project.

The 150-year-old building will be moved to the front of the property, where it will be visible from the road and accessible to the public.

As volunteers from the Archaeological Society of British Columbia began to remove the concrete floor they discovered the original 1852 brick floor underneath it. The floor is built of bricks produced on the farm itself.

“This is incredibly rare,” said Stark. “The rarity of this I cannot (over) emphasize to you.”

The volunteers continued to reveal the brick floor and as they did discovered a metal bucket buried in the ground.

What’s being called the “dairy bucket,” (which actually isn’t a bucket, as it never had a bottom) was carefully revealed and dug out of the ground. From there it was taken to the Royal B.C. Museum to be treated in its conservation lab. The museum agreed to do the work based on the importance of the finding, said Stark. The bucket will be treated to stop deterioration of the metal.

The bucket is thought to be a part of the original draining and cooling system of the dairy. More will be known after corrosion is removed.

The team also discovered two corner trap drains that also acted as part of the cooling system necessary to make cream and cheese.

Stark maintains that the ideal would be to leave the building where it is, but a building moving company says it can move the structure without causing damage.

“None of us knew how important or rare it was, or how fragile it was,” Stark said.

Just what will be done with the building is still undecided, but Stark is in talks with the developer and proposes some level of restoration and opening up the building as an interpretive centre to the public. Washrooms would have to be provided on site and the developer has said that is a possibility.

 

Currently, the 16- by 26-foot building is hidden from view. Built in 1852 by Capt. Edward E. Langford, the small building served as a dairy on a cattle and sheep farm, said Stark, the heritage restoration consultant hired by the builders. The Dairy and Cheese House, which has 18-inch thick walls, is among the oldest buildings in Greater Victoria, and one of the six oldest in the province.