The Reluctant Cheesemaker: Craft Work and Conflict in Ontario’s Nineteenth-Century Cooperative Cheese Industry
Despite the importance of export-oriented cheese manufacturing in nineteenth- century Ontario, little is known about cheesemakers. These waged workers and small producers consisted of men, and some women, who faced different opportunities and constraints. Their experiences suggest inter- and intraclass conflict was a defining feature of the industry, despite contemporary narratives that characterized it as a period of cooperation between stakeholders. Makers responded to conflicts in ways that highlight their critical role in this industrial craft, the limits of their power, and the sector’s instability in a time of food and agricultural industrialization.