A 135 Year Tradition Empire Cheese

When visiting Campbellford most folks know the #1 stop while in town is the local cheese factory – Empire Cheese. Their delicious selection of cheese and mouth-watering curd is top shelf if you are a cheese connoisseur.

The first Empire Cheese Factory was built in the late 1870s on the farm of John Haig, who was the first Empire cheesemaker. The second factory was built just to the east of the present factory and some of the historical cheese makers in that plant were Tom Naylor, Charles Stephens, Jack Kitchen, Bob Maybee, and Les Shillinglaw – together these gentlemen created the Empire Cheese legacy.

In the fall of 1952, the other local cheese factory – The Kimberley Cheese Factory – burned; and in 1953 Empire and Kimberley amalgamated forming the current Empire Cheese & Butter Co-op. That same year, the current cheese factory was built with Les Shillinglaw as the lead cheese maker. Les was followed by Don Pollock and the current cheese maker is Mark Erwin. 

Today, the Empire Cheese Co-op is the only cheese manufacturing plant operating in Northumberland County and the first one east of Toronto. They are HACCP registered, a document given to food processors and manufacturers as recognition that its team has developed a comprehensive and complete food safety plan; the top of the heap in food quality standards!

The majority of Empire Cheese is sold through their factory store and various outlets in the Peterborough, Lindsay, Oshawa, Cobourg, Stouffville, Orono, Port Perry, Markham, Merrickville, Uxbridge, Burlington Farmers’ Market and surrounding areas. It is a well known and much-loved brand here in Cottage Country!

Empire Cheese is owned by local dairy farmers who hold an election each year to vote in a Board of Directors which run the factory. 

At Empire, cheese is made as tradition states, in open-style vats which is said to give the cheese and curd better flavour. There are no additives used to boost production, and there are no flavours added to their cheddar – it is all natural, with no preservatives added. The cheese is then vacuum-packed in Empire’s modern facility to preserve the special flavour. A true mix of tradition and modern technology gives customers the best product possible.

Empire Cheese Factory