Visit Baxter Arts Centre and see the Baxter Canning Company History Wall!

History Highlights

Don Baxter Memorial Building

• Edwin Baxter founded the Baxter Canning Co. Ltd. in 1934. His son Donald was Plant Manager. The firm had its beginnings as Baxter-Purtelle Co. Ltd. in 1930, when a small canning plant and office were built on the south side of Stanley Street.

• In 1946 the Picton Gazette announced the Baxter Canning Company was building a Cafeteria and Rest Centre on the north side of Stanley, across the street from the main plant. The Gazette foresaw its ideal use for community events, stating, “The village hall is inadequate for this thriving little town”.

Baxter Co.

Baxter Co. Employees at Lunch in Cafeteria, 1947

• The Cafeteria provided economical meals for Baxter Canning Co. workers, serving lunch, as well as dinner during high canning season. From time to time the building also hosted company gatherings, meetings, wedding showers and other events.

• In 1964 a disastrous fire destroyed the main plant. The contents of the office were saved and moved to the Cafeteria, which served as the Baxter Canning Company office until a new plant opened later the same year.

• In the early 1970s the cafeteria building was used as a Baxter Canning Company warehouse sales outlet, where County residents bought dented cans, and cans with no labels at a discount.

• The Cafeteria was converted to a bunkhouse for 40 migrant workers in 1974. Hardee Farms purchased controlling interest in the BCC in 1975, followed by Cobi Foods in 1986. Don Baxter remained active on the Board of Directors.

Don and Edwin Baxter

Edwin & Don Baxter in Cafeteria Building, 1960

• J. Edwin Baxter was a leader in Canada’s canning industry and in the community. He was also active in the United Church, the Village of Bloomfield Council, the Board of Trade, and other local organizations before his death in 1962.

• Edwin Baxter was also an avid sports enthusiast. The BCC sponsored baseball and hockey teams. The Baxter Silver Ribbon Team won the 1946 Ontario Hardball Championship.

• J. Donald Baxter was also a leader in the canning industry, as well as in Prince Edward County, and the Province. Don served as a Bloomfield Village Councillor, Chair of the PEC Hospital Board, and as a Liberal M.P.P. 1948-51. He died in 1994, just two months before the plant’s final closure.

• The Village of Bloomfield bought the Cafeteria building in 1994, dedicating the Baxters Green the same year to the Baxter family in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the community. The Baxters Green is a large open space in the Village, situated west of Mill Street, north of Stanley Street, and south of Main Street.

Baxter Canning Co. gathering

Baxter Canning Co. Gathering in Cafeteria Building 1955

• The Village used the Cafeteria building to install and test Bloomfield’s new water system 1994-98. The Boy Scouts, and Trails to Literacy subsequently used the building until the County declared it surplus in 2011.

• With the support of over 30 County artists and arts organizations and businesses, the Baxter Arts Centre was successful in its bid to purchase the building. It assumed ownership in May 2011 with the promise that it would return the building to community use by making it a centre for arts education and expression.

Photo Credits: Seventh Town Historical Society and Caroline Henry.