Almost everyone is aware that milk turns sour, and that it can separate quite naturally into curds and whey during the production of lactic acid even if the milk is refrigerated. Our Pasteurized and homogenized milk merely takes a longer time. However, because organisms other than those which produce lactic acid often survive, the normal procedure in the households of today is to pour the milk down the drain at the first sign that it has started to turn ... whether it is either downright "rotten" or merely "sour". Fortunately, the natural acid-forming bacteria are the winners most often, and they help to control the "bad" bacteria (including some which cause diseases). Our Scottish ancestors, with their frugal upbringing, would not have been so wasteful with the curdling milk. If the souring milk wasn't used in baking, it would have been placed in a pot on the back of the stove to simmer. In this manner, the process of separation was accelerated.
My first experience, with the making of cottage cheese, occurred at my grandparents' rustic cottage beside the Grand River in Waldemar. Unpasteurized milk was purchased at a farmhouse up the hill, and it was stored in a "cold cellar" beneath a trap door in the kitchen. The cream rose to the top of the glass milk bottle, and it was used up quite quickly in coffee or on cereal, but the remaining milk would often "sour". The sour odour or taste quickly disappeared when the separation of large curds from the clear whey took place on the stove. It was usually Aunt Phoebe, who decided the moment when the curds should be collected in a sieve or some cheesecloth. In those days before the concern about high cholesterol, it was considered a treat to mix a portion of the cheese with some butter, sprinkle it with a bit of pepper and eat it on a cracker. Other than macaroni and cheese or a toasted cheese sandwich or melted cheese on a burger, I was well into my adult years before I developed a taste for processed cheese. Cottage cheese reigned as king. Maybe this preference was due to an early exposure to Limburger cheese. Even commercial cottage cheese does not match the real thing.
The production of "cottage" or "homesteader's" cheese was such a common pioneer practice, that one should not expect to find literary works or records devoted to it. The commonplace activities rarely merited any comments by our ancestors. The housewife, wishing to make curds, would put a bowl of fresh whole or skimmed milk in a warmish place overnight. So much the better if a "thunder storm" (being associated with a warm atmosphere as a rule) was imminent, since the curdling took place more quickly than usual. Nothing was wasted, since the whey was fed to the pigs or the chickens.
The Women's Institute, a popular organization during the early days of our pioneers, provided precise directions for making Ontario Cheddar cheese in the home as well. This was comparable to the factory method, but done on a much smaller scale.
 Aerate about three pails of evening milk and leave it overnight at room temperature in a tub covered by a cloth. (Often a "starter solution" was kept from a previous batch to hasten the process.)
 Pour this into a well scrubbed, scalded wash-boiler and add another three pails of morning milk. This mixture is placed on a low fire until a steady heat of 86 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit can be maintained. Into a half glass of water mix about a teaspoon of colour, which is then added to the milk and stirred well. Dissolve a Junket Rennet tablet in a half glass of water, add to the milk and stir well.
 Allow the milk to react without further stirring for twenty minutes and remove the boiler from the stove when the curd is ready to cut. At the end of another twenty minutes, use a finger to test if the curd will make a clean break. Use a long knife to cut the curd into one centimetre squares. Allow five minutes, before placing the boiler back on the stove. Stir slowly as the temperature rises to body heat (98 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove the tub from the heat once more, and allow it to stand covered for an hour.
 Test a handful of the curd by squeezing it. If it crumbles easily, most of the whey should be strained off. Mix about one-half cup of salt into the curd very thoroughly in preparation for the "press". A tin pail with the bottom removed can serve as a press, which should be lined with cheesecloth to hold the curds. Place a round board of the correct size over the covered mass, add weights such as well-washed building bricks and let stand for several hours so that the whey drips into a container below. (Remember that the whey can always be added back if the curds become too dry.)
 Remove the mass and smooth out the cheesecloth covering. Replace in the press, add more weights and leave it for a full 24 hours. Take the cheese and the covering out again, place it on a large plate or a breadboard covered with a sheet of waxed paper and leave it in a protected area with good circulation of air. During the first week, turn the mass over several times each day.
 At the end of the week, remove the cheesecloth and cover the cheese all over using a small brush with paraffin (melted in a double boiler). The molded cheese, thus protected from flies, may be turned a couple of times per day as it "ripens" for six weeks. The moist three-pound round should be equal to the commercial product if the instructions have been followed. It served as an excellent source of protein during the winter months.
But where is the relationship of all this to our family story ... other than the fact that our pioneer settlers could produce cheese in their humble dwellings?
There is, indeed, a Ross connection with the cheese industry in Ontario, and the tale begins with the youngest son and eighth child of Alexander Ross and Margaret Noble. William Ross was born on the ninth of August, 1828, at Spital Shore in Killearnan Parish of the Black Isle, one year before the clearances on the Redcastle Estate forced the family to move to the Shore-of-Drynie in Knockbain Parish. At almost twenty-four years of age, William emigrated to Canada and settled with his brother Donald in Scott Township (Ontario County) before proceeding to Minto Township (Wellington County) after the announcement about the opening of the final township in Wellington County to settlers. He was among the first handful of squatters to reach the South-East corner on the Arthur-Minto town line. The year was 1853, and the surveyors defined the "200 acres" upon which he staked his claim as the first two lots on the Fourth Concession.
William returned to Scott Township for the winter, but returned to Minto in 1854 with Donald Fraser, the most recent immigrant who had arrived with his wife Elizabeth Ross and daughter Margaret. About one month before the land sales, the agent for the Crown, Andrew Geddes, met one of his legal obligations by notifying the qualified squatters, including William Ross and Donald Fraser, about their rights. By law, the land agent was required to note all such occupied property and to advise the squatters about their pre-emption rights. He also stressed the fact that they must appear at his office in Elora on or soon after the 10th of September. The Minto land papers would reveal the usual number of disputes, multiple claims, deals and dubious claimants, but there was apparently no question about the occupancy, which our two family members had established.
Thus, Donald Fraser paid his three pounds and fifteen shillings (this being the required ten per cent of the price of his land) to the agent of the Crown on September 13, 1854, for which he received a paper that granted him permission to occupy Lot 2 of Concession 4. William followed on September 19, paid four pounds four shillings nine pence towards the 113 acres of Lot one on the Fourth Concession, and (like Donald Fraser) signed his occupancy paper before another witness as was customary in Canada West during this period. Technically, the payments and the acquisition of a Crown Patent should have been completed within ten years of the land sales in 1854, but the Crown imposed lenient interest and waived payments during years when crops were poor.
Donald Fraser, on February 1, 1870, was the final family member to receive his Crown Patent, which was for Lot 2 on Concession IV. At almost fifty-five years of age, and a widower since his wife's untimely death in 1857, he prepared to sell his property in 1876. His sole surviving offspring, Margaret C. Fraser, was twenty-five when all but the three-quarter acre site of their homestead was sold to Richard Powell on April 11. Under the terms of the $3600 mortgage held by Donald, the small parcel of land with its home and barns became patented in Richard Powell's name on April 2, 1881, and Donald moved to Guelph (according to our family sources).
On April 21 of the same year, the small north-east corner of Lot two was sold to a newly-formed cheese factory. Edward Darroch was president of the Joint Stock Company, and the first cheesemaker, Jim W. Robertson, lived in Donald Fraser's former home. By 1884, the proper title of the firm was The Minto and Arthur United Cheese and Butter Factory, after Alexander Fraser Ross backed a mortgage of $1500 for the company on March 25. Twenty years later, Alex rescued the factory once again, and he placed his son Jim in charge of the cheese-making. Jim Ross moved to Toronto in 1911, and he became a highly competent Dairy inspector for the growing city.
The three-quarter acre site was sold to Peter Ross on April 1, 1915, together with Lot 1 on Concession V, from the estate of his father Alexander F. Ross. Under the terms of "other value considered & $1.00", the land was transferred to Bert A. Ross on July 13, 1958.