Icelandic settlement at Markerville, northwest of Innisfail, dates back to 1888. The town itself is named after Mr. C.P. Marker, a dairy commissioner in what was called the Northwest Territories before Alberta became a province.
As historian Dorothy Field explains, it didn't take long for the Icelandic immigrants to prove themselves good dairy farmers.
In 1895, the first creameries were established in the Markerville area. They were independently operated and were in competition with each other, but, after 1902, when the Markerville Creamery (which is still there in Markerville) was built, those other creameries voluntarily shut down and everyone there dealt with the new creamery.
The Markerville Creamery was a wood frame building with a very wide porch on one side. Here the milk cans were unloaded and stacked.
The creamery was established as a federal initiative to help develop a dairy industry in the west.
In fact, this initiative was under the direction of a Mr. Marker, so you can see where the name of the town came from. He hired Daniel Morkerberg, a Dane who was trained in butter and cheese production back in Europe, to come and head up the operation at Markerville.
Initially farmers would bring their raw mild to the dairy where it would be separated, the cream would be taken off and processed into butter. But, to streamline operations, Mr. Morkerberg got the farmers to separate the cream at home so only the cream would come to the creamery. This was advantageous to him in a number of ways - not least of which was because he owned the franchise for cream separators in the area.
From the beginning, dairy production was strong, and under Daniel Morkerberg's management, the creamery continued to grow.
Well, an interesting statistic that goes with production in the area is that in 1899 to 1900 there was 24, 664 pounds of butter produced. However, the peak season of 1923 saw a total of 194, 870 pounds of butter. So, you can see this would have a big impact.
During its 70 years of operation the Markerville Creamery was run by Daniel Morkerberg or members of his family. In 1917 he was elected to the provincial legislature and, in 1960, he was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.