It took only three quarters of an hour for fire to destroy the modern egg grading plant of Hugh Duncan, Clayton Road, Ramsay, on Monday afternoon. It is located about two miles from this town. Flames were seen by an employee at 4.45 and by 5.30 the building of cinder blocks, which was only two years old, had been consumed together with machinery, other equipment and 150 cases of eggs—30 doz. to the case.
It appears that rubbish had been burned in an outside incinerator located some distance away from all the farm buildings. But a high wind was blowing and after it was thought all life was out of the ashes, sparks must have been wafted to the egg grading building.
The Almonte Fire Brigade was sent for by Mr. Duncan, who was at home at the time and it responded with one of its pumpers and the township pumper which is carried with the large one. The town machine used water in its 300 gal. storage tank to thoroughly wet the wall of the house next to the blazing building and thus protect it from the fire.
The smaller machine was hooked on with its sucker in a creek and it helped protect the house although it was apparent little could be done to stem the flames that were consuming the grading station. Furniture was moved out of the house as it looked as if it was doomed. Windows were cracked by the heat. The loss is partially covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, the North Lanark Co-op has placed its egg grading equipment at the disposal of Mr. Duncan to help him out until he gets re-established. Among his customers are the Ontario Hospital at Smiths Falls, the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa and Perrault’s Gardens, Ottawa.
About 6.30 another alarm was received in town for a grass fire in the Burnt Lands, Huntley Twp., a t the top of what is known as the ‘Big Hill’ on Highway 44. This was not menacing any buildings but it was spreading through the dry grass and the scrub bush. It was fairly well under control when the town firemen arrived but they finished it with water from the storage tank on the pumper.
Although I liked my job as a pin setter working for Bill Irwin , I looked for another job, a little less wearing (particularly for the sake of my Jeans) and found it thanks to Cecil Hicks who operated (as far as I know) the only egg grading facility in town.
This establishment occupied the basement (eggs) and one other floor, above Ritchie’s (chicks), known as the “brooder”.
A very commonplace door, adjacent to the Ritchie loading platform led into a cavernous room with two sets of stairs, one leading down to the egg grading station and the other, up to the brooder. At the bottom of the stairs, one turned right for buying or selling eggs, or straight ahead to exit the building. Perhaps to enjoy the sound of the rushing water or just to enjoy the view and let your senses react to the noise of the disturbed waters. Or you are just plain lost!
It was a long corridor to reach the door to the egg sorting room-the office on the left and once inside you were faced with an almost square room (20’ approx.) with a large heavy doored enclosure in the right corner.
This was a refrigerated room for storing eggs after they had been graded and actually the main room was a little cool. On the left side was the huge grading machine which took up most of the wall (except for a door to access the office and the working area of the machine).
A not unusual start to Saturday morning would have Cecil begin candling the eggs and placing them on the machine according to the following criteria (Perhaps not the same as now) from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:-
ReceivingEggs are received and held in a refrigerated holding area which is separate from the area where the eggs are graded.
Eggs pass over a bright candling light by means of a conveyor that transports and, at the same time, rolls the eggs. The light makes the internal contents of the egg visible allowing a determination of internal defects to be made (i.e. blood spots, meat spots, rot, poor quality yolk, air cell size, etc.) By rolling the eggs as they pass over the candling light, the entire outer surface of the egg can be seen by the grader.
The light makes cracks in the shell visible (some cracks are very difficult to see until candled) and also allows dirt, stains, or excessively rough shelled eggs to be seen. By this process, the candler can determine whether each egg meets the grade requirements for Canada Grade A. Defective eggs, leaking eggs and rejects are removed by the candler. This was done one egg at a time by Cecil (although he could hold at least a half dozen eggs in each hand, switching them around one handed as he placed them up to the light. (there was a bucket conveniently placed under the light position for rejects and mishaps)!
The Canadian Food Agency Guidelines
The eggs that meet Canada A grade requirements proceed to the scales to be weighed.
Eggs are weighed and sorted according to size category for Canada A grade eggs (jumbo size, extra large size, large size, medium size, small size and peewee size). Each of the sizes has a weight requirement that must be met.
Eggs are packed in containers according to their grade and size (if
Canada A grade).
Eggs are stored at an appropriate temperature in the graded cooler until they are loaded into a vehicle for transport to the retail location.
The following is an example of a grading machine although this is much smaller (an example of a larger machine at the start of the video but still smaller than the one we used).
Back to the action:
I would have tuned the radio (probably CFRA or CKOY, no CJOH then) to listen to the Cisco Kid (Pancho), the Lone Ranger, or Roy and Dale.
As the eggs came tumbling out (gently), I placed them in the appropriate trays, stacking and storing them as the day progressed.
In addition to the grades mentioned (I suppose not in accordance with current directives) there were Cracks, B and C eggs separated from the others.
B-slightly darker yolks.
C-definitely darker and might have blood spots (safe for use in cooking)
Next is the operation of the grader!
This next photo is somewhat the shape but Cecil’s grader was larger and more substantially built.
From time to time adventurous ladies (usually older/regular customers) came in to buy eggs. Usually in search of one or the other of the last 3 grades mentioned, the exception being those that wanted white eggs.
The most popular chicken breeds that only lay white eggs include the White Leghorn, Andalusian, Polish chicken, Ancona, Egyptian Fayoumis, Hamburg and California White, with the Leghorn by far the most popular. Most eggs, in days gone by were brown, as they were produced by local farmers who had to rely on a chicken that not only produced eggs but could be sold as meat chickens when the laying days were over-there is very little meat on a Leghorn. A farmer would bring in eggs in a variety of containers with no distinction as to colour. We made no effort to separate the colours unless we were asked by the aforementioned customer, “do you have any white eggs”. No difference in price for this service.I worked in a confined, cool environment, doing a somewhat boring, repetitious job but enjoyed the characters/customers that came in to buy eggs, and of course, chat. I knew most of the farmers in the area but have since lost most of those memories.From time to time Cecil would load eggs in the truck and make deliveries to local grocery stores and/or restaurants.Finally, would come the end of an eggstraordinary day
Farm eggs are now in hot demand, and in California alternative eggs have reached cult status. The farmers who raise them are now almost as famous as the Hollywood star’s imprints that grace the grounds of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. These eggs now offer smaller farmers a good source of revenue. But, this growing market for a different kind of egg is creating tension between those smaller farmers that raise them and our local egg marketing boards. If you had no idea, these boards were created to develop the mainstream egg industry in Canada and its large chicken farms.
The egg farming is governed by a supply management system in Canada, which means egg marketing boards control the number of eggs produced. This quota system maintains a constant price, and proponents say it ensures that farmers make a living and consumers have a steady supply of eggs. But the eggs produced on farms that hold the quotas are not the eggs that foodies now desire. It’s the small, often organic operator who is supplying the fresh eggs to farmers’ markets that are in high demand.
All farmers are allowed to keep 99 laying hens without a buying quota, which is going to cost them thousands of dollars. They can then sell their eggs from the farm gate without grading them, a process that evaluates quality. But they are forbidden from selling them anywhere else unless they are graded, which, for the small farmer, is a tough regulation to meet because grading stations are often a long way from the farm and it is very expensive to set one up.
This whole dilemma has now created what they call “a grey market for eggs”. However, if you know the imaginary password, sometimes you can buy the odd dozen at an Ontario health food store. These popular eggs at some farmers’ markets are kept out of sight – for a reason. It’s now considered more like Prohibition bootlegging with a lot more people ignoring the regulations and selling eggs.
But when markets or stores sell these eggs their risk becomes VERY HIGH. There is much talk of the “egg police” who keep track of who’s doing what. Then there are the rumours and sometimes facts of farmers getting in trouble for breaking the rules. A farmer was fined in 2008 over $3,000 CDN for selling eggs to Ottawa-area restaurants. Somewhere in Eastern Ontario in 2006, the egg marketing board, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and police officers raided one particular farm and pressed charges including unlawful possession of laying hens because the farmer allegedly owned more than the permitted 99 laying hens.
Members of the Maple Leaf Baseball Club are deeply incensed at the miserable action of someone or persons unknown. Who threw eggs at the Lanark Baseball Club when driving out of Carleton Place after having won a game here by 11 to 2? The baseball players of Carleton Place wish the public to know that no one from their team launched the eggs at the corner of Moffat and High Street Saturday night. A reward has been offered to find the guilty party or parties. A resident siting in his doorstep at a distance from the corner said he thought he saw some boys throw something at the passing load that was speeding away towards Lanark but did not know what they were.
A young man of Carleton Place went to Lanark on a visit afterwards and he brings back word there is no doubt the eggs were thrown and some of the players struck. The Lanark Era now comes to hand and confirms this unpleasant news. The baseball players on both teams are good sportsmanlike fellows and utterly despise such rowdyam. To this day no one has spilled the beans to who scrambled away after throwing the eggs.
This from the Carleton Place Herald 1906
We regret to learn through the Lanark Era that some of our small Carleton Place boys
so far forgot their manners as to throw eggs at the Lanark baseball players as they were driving out of town after the last match here. The local club and all the citizens deplore
the misconduct of the ‘ guilty ones,’ and only wish there was some way
of punishing the culprits. The Lanark and Carleton Place sports have
always played their games without a hitch, and we trust no feeling w ill arise over this lamentable incident
John Armour added:
J.S. Stark – maybe related to a Horace Stark who was one of the first Carleton Place people killed in World War II. (Navy). Large write ups in the Carleton Place newspaper of the time.