The first Jersey Cows in Canada
Home ] Up ]

 

The first Jersey Cows in Canada

Jaques Cartier

In 1541 Jaques Cartier, a Frenchman from Brittany, settled with his cattle in the area that is now Quebec. In 1601 more Breton cattle were introduced into the French colony  A regular supply of cattle was imported from northwestern France (Brittany and Normandy) from 1608 to 1610 by Samuel de Champlain, and in 1660 King Louis XIV commissioned a shipment of such cattle, destined for New France! These were the source of French Canadian cattle. In 1667 Canada had 3.107 head of cattle of Norman and Breton descent. Under the rough conditions of Quebec, they and their offspring developed into a thrifty, hardy dairy breed. About one and a half centuries passed before selected Western European dairy breeds were brought in Canada.
Marleen Felius: Cattle breeds - an encyclopedia, 1995.

The Canadian Jersey Breeder  published in February 1997 an article "Jersey and Genealogy", by Daniel Parkinson, from which I quote:  
"The first Jerseys came to Canada on fishing boats from Jersey Island and were known as Alderneys at that time. Fishermen brought them over and landed them in Nova Scotia and Quebec, especially along the Gaspé Coast where the fishermen would make their summer headquarters and dry their fish. The Jerseys would give them a supply of milk and cream during the summer. When they went back, they generally left the cattle behind, and there are still Jerseys on the Gaspè coast descended from those original landings some hundred and twenty five years  ago."
James Bremner, secretary of the Canadian Jersey Cattle Club in the 1940s and 1950s  in an undated typescript.

As early as the 15th century, Jerseymen were fishing the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and it is believed that Breton fishermen were already fishing cod in the estuary of Saint-Laurent from the 12th century, long before the discovery of Canada by Jacques Cartier.

So perhaps the first cattle leaving the Channel Islands went to Canada??

Daniel Parkinson gives another exampel that Jersey cows might have been present in North America  before the officially accepted import of the breed in 1868.

He writes: "In my research into my family origins in Canada at Rawdon, I was told about a diary that had been kept by George Copping, one of the early English settlers at that place. He founded a large family that spread across the North American continent and there are many thousands that carry his genes or have married into that clan".
Parkinson found some interesting entries in the diary: " "Monday, April 4, 1836 "... and our cow Jersey calved this afternoon a Heifer Calf". Then, on Aug 10, 1837. "We changed Jersey away for a cow of Mr. Law`s"."
And Mr. Parkinson  make the conclusion: "Of course there is nothing to prove that Jersey was a Jersey but it is possible that she or some ancestor had made her way to Canada as a ship`s cow."
Canadian Jersey Breeder, February 1997, Jersey and Genealogy, By Daniel Parkinson.

Philip Webster writes: "Canada imported 15 females and two bulls from the royal herd at Windsor, England in 1868 to form the celebrated St. Lambert herd, located to across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal."
Philip L. Webster: "A Brief History of the Jersey Breed and the World Jersey Cattle Bureau", 1996

The importation was made in the name of S. Sheldon Stephens, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, by Mr. Harrison Stephens, his father. Mr. Harrison Stephens resided in Montreal from 1828 to the time of his death, and was one of the most prominent merchants in Canada. He always took an active interest in agriculture. He had three sons - Geo. Washington Stephens, one of the substantial capitalists of Lower Canada, who served in the Cabinet of his native province, under more than  one government; S. Sheldon Stephens, and Romeo H. Stephens. Both the latter have been member of the American Jersey Cattle Club, although Mr. Romeo H. Stephens resigned his membership some years ago. Mr. S. Sheldon Stephens resided in Montreal at the time of the formation of the herd, and still resides there. Mr. Romeo H. Stephens, lately deceased, during his life made his headquarters at St. Lambert, Quebec, when at home, but travelled most of his time. Mr. Harrison Stephens had accumulated large means, and being anxious to establish Mr. S. Sheldon Stephens as a farmer, arranged with Mr. L.P. Fowler, of Bushey Farm, Bushey, Herts, England, to buy a herd of Jerseys for him. Mr. Jas. Duncan Gibbs, a friend of Mr. Harrison Stephens, accompanied Mr. Fowler when he made the purchase. Messrs. Gibbs and Fowler had carte blanche as to price. The order was, to send out the very best specimens of the breed to be found either in England or on the Isle of Jersey.
The animals were imported August 17, 1868, and comprised the following bulls; Defiance 196, bred at the Queen`s Shaw Farm, Windsor, England, and Victor Hugo 197, bred by J. De Veulle, St. Clements, Jersey.
The cows were Victoria 411, Pride of Windsor 483, Amelia 484 and Juliet 485, all bred by Her Majesty the Queen, and Alice 488, Hebe 489, Berthe 490, Bonnie 491, Lisette 492, Ophelie 493, Pauline 494, Lydie 495, Portie 496, Fancy 1318 and Beauty 1319. In July, 1871, Mr. Andrew Allan, of Montreal, who, with his brother, Sir Hugh Allan, composed the great shipping firm of Allan Bros., imported Taffy 5523, and she and Topsey of St. Lambert (imported in her dam, Taffy) were added to the herd. Later on Stoke Pogis 3d 2238 was purchased by Mr. Romeo H. Stephens from his breeder, Peter Leclair, of Winooski, Vermont, and added to the St. Lambert Herd. The original herd, as owned by the two Stephens, consisted of the 2 bulls, 15 cows imported August 17, 1868, Taffy and Topsey of St. Lambert (before mentioned) and Stoke Pogis 3d 2238.

The herd was not taken to St. Lambert when first imported, as it generally believed, but was kept on a farm, by Mr. S. Sheldon Stephens, on the lower Lachine Road, near Montreal, which had been bought for him by his father. They were kept there for several years, and while on this farm the name St. Lambert was never used. Mr. S. Sheldon Stephens devoted his entire time and attention to his Jerseys and agricultural pursuits, more for pleasure than profit.
The St. Lambert. Family of Jerseys. By Valancey E. Fuller.Billings Farm, Woodstock, Vermont.
 
 These cattle, whose blood has been combined with the blood of stock imported from England into Vermont, by Peter Leclair, has resulted in the St. Lambert strain, that has become so far-famed for great butter tests, in the herd of Mr. Valancey E. Fuller, Hamilton, Ontario.
The Jersey in America.[John S. Linsley: Jersey Cattle in America. New York 1885]

Mary Anne of St. Lambert
Mary Anne of St. Lambert 9770 completed  1884 a world's record of 867 lbs. 14 3/4 oz, churned butter. Owned by Mr. V.E.  Fuller, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was said to have refused an offer of $26.000 for Mary Anne of St. Lambert.

 Mention should be made of one early day family, known as  the St. Lamberts, because of the influence of this family on the breed, especially in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Its origin was unique. In 1868 Mr. Harrison Stephens, Montreal, Canada made an importation of fifteen cows and bulls. Shortly after, two more cows and another bull were purchased and the herd taken to a farm near the village of St. Lambert, in the Province of Quebec. These twenty animals constituted the original St. Lambert herd. The strain differs in that it descended from a herd rather than from an individual. Any animal descended from any of these original animals was considered as a St. Lambert to a degree, and any animal having no outcross from the blood of the members of the original herd was called a pure St. Lambert. Up to thirty years ago, the St. Lambert strain was wide spread and very popular. Most of the higher churn test butter records were made by St. Lambert Jerseys and the Jersey herds winning the dairy contests at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, and the St. Louis World`s Fair Demonstration in 1924, were composed of many animals from this family. Today, the family has largely disappeared, although St. Lambert blood does occur in many herds. In fact, the present National Champion Jersey for butter-fat yield, Stockwell`s April Pogis of H.P. 694544, with a yearly record of 1218.48 pounds of butterfat, was sired by a bull of nearly pure St. Lambert inheritance.
Jerseys in America. By Lynn Copeland. [American Dairy Cattle, 1941]

The Canadian Jerseys were recorded in the American Jersey Cattle Club`s herdbook until 1905. The Canadian Jersey Cattle Club was established in 1901 and incorporated in 1905. Mr. Fuller was a director of the American Jersey Cattle Club ( he also was involved with bringing Dorset sheep to Canada and US ).
The breeding of Canadian and US Jerseys has been intertwined from that day to this. The St. Lambert Jerseys were important in the early US Champion producers.
David Stiles [Unpublished manuscript]

 

www.jersey.syd-fyn.dk sidst opdateret 29-09-00 jersey@post4.tele.dk