The first Jersey Cows in
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.
The Canadian Jersey Breeder published in February 1997 an article
"Jersey and Genealogy", by Daniel Parkinson, from which I quote:
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".
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."
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 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
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.
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 ).
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