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Imports from Scotland

Having decided that the Ayrshire cattle were a suitable choice as a dairy breed in the Okanagan Valley, James Dun‑Waters wanted to lead the way with the best possible stock.

Black and white photo of nine cows on a hillside overlooking the ocean.

Ayrshires, Scotland

Ayrshires had been brought into Canada by other dairy operations for years, and there was a considerable number of animals in Quebec and Ontario available for breeding and setting up new dairies. To Captain Dun‑Waters, the superiority of Scottish Ayrshires was obvious, and Okanagan climate ideal for the breed.

Importing cattle from Scotland proved to be difficult. Dun-Waters solicited the help of George C. Hay, the District Agriculture officer in Kamloops to procure the first animals. Hay bought two milk cows, five heifers, a bull calf and the bull “Chapmanton Indicator” from a breeder in Quebec. These formed the beginnings of the Fintry Ayrshire herd. Over the next few years, Dun‑Waters’s manager Angus Gray attended Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair annually to purchase Ayrshires to expand the Fintry herd. Having determined the breed would thrive in the Okanagan, Dun‑Waters then sought help from his friend the Earl of Stair at Lochinch Castle, Scotland, to select prize Ayrshire cattle from across Scotland and ship them to Canada. The Earl was familiar with the Ayrshire breed, and in a good position to locate and acquire animals that were up to standard in breeding, condition and age. They would have to be able to tolerate the journey across the Atlantic Ocean, the required quarantine, and then the long trip by rail across Canada. These prized cows were of course treated with great care at all times, so that the journey, although lengthy, would not have posed too much hardship for them. With the addition of the half dozen cows from Scotland, the herd numbered about 30 cows. Dun‑Waters continued to buy and sell Ayrshires to improve the herd, so this number fluctuated.

Black and white photo of eighteen men and one boy with six horned cows standing on a wharf. Metal trusses above, ship on the right.

Ayrshires leaving Scotland for Canada