Stoney Creek Dairy 135 King Street East, Stoney Creek
It’s the end of an era for a classic Hamilton landmark – the Stoney Creek Dairy. One of the largest ice cream retailers in North America and having remained in its original location since 1929, the ice cream shop is closing on Labour Day weekend (September 3rd being its last day of operation.)
Note: You can still get your ice cream fix from the Dairy Bar, open year-round at Hutch’s Harbourfront at 325 Bay Street North.
Like any small business that grew into something bigger, it all started with a dream. A young man named George Dawson began the Dairy in 1929 in just a small barn behind his house. The goal was to supply his neighbours with milk from their own community. Reading about the Dairy’s history, this reminded me of all of the local business owners I’ve met throughout the Tour, particularly in the food industry, who work with that same local ingredients initiative. That same spirit is being upheld today with people like Cake & Loaf, Bread Bar, and Dr. Scoop Icecreamist.
The business grew over the years, expanding to deliver to the greater Hamilton area, to places like Burlington, Grimsby, and Winona. In 1979, the focus of the Dairy was exclusively ice cream. Withstanding a devastating fire, a brief closure and change in management, the Dairy remained a fixture and a local favourite. It’s sad to see it go!
I knew I had to stop by before its close and see it one more time. At the end of last summer, my fellow Tourists and I made the Dairy our last outing of the summer. It was also the last time the four of us were together before going our separate ways in the fall. Now that it’s just me touring the city, it was fitting that I return again, this time on my own.
The place has a 1950s feel, with its pastel colour scheme, chalkboard menus, and vintage-looking tables and chairs. Naturally, I took my time choosing a flavour, and went with two scoops of Black Cherry in a waffle cone. The Dairy is also famous for its sundaes, but I love a waffle cone!
My parents joined me for the day and it was interesting to hear about my mom’s childhood memories of visits to the Dairy with her family. At the time, she said it always felt like a real trek out into the country to go to the Dairy, even though it wasn’t that far from their house, and it was always a fun trip. Ordering a hot fudge sundae, many memories came back to her, particularly as we looked at the old framed photographs on the walls.
This tour stop officially kicked off my “Ice Cream Month,” and it was also important for me to visit such a landmark in my hometown while I still could. Give yourself a treat by making the Stoney Creek Dairy one of your stops before the summer is out!
Note: Information on the history of the Dairy I gleaned from reading the framed “The Stoney Creek Dairy Story” on the wall inside the establishment.