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Bothwell Cheese resumes production after early June fire

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, June 28, 2024 – Gay Lea Foods today announced the successful resumption of production at its Bothwell Cheese facility in New Bothwell, Manitoba, following a serious fire at the plant earlier this month.

“Thanks to the swift and coordinated efforts of our team, the dedication of Bothwell Cheese employees, and the support of local community partners, we are thrilled to announce that production has resumed at Bothwell Cheese,” said Suzanna Dalrymple, president and CEO of Gay Lea Foods.  “One of Canada’s most beloved cheese brands is officially back in production.”

The fire, which began on the morning of Saturday, June 1, resulted in no injuries, but caused extensive damage to an area of the facility that processes whey – a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Though damage to this area was severe enough to temporarily halt operations, the co-operative credits the skill and bravery of first responders who attended the scene for preventing further damage to the facility.

“We are extremely grateful to the Hanover Fire Department for its quick response and efforts to bring the situation under control,” said Dalrymple.

Cleanup and repair efforts began almost immediately, with employees rallying to support a safe, phased re-opening of the plant, and Gay Lea Foods committing that employees would be paid in full during the shutdown. After careful cleaning and inspection, packaging was successfully brought back online on June 10. The Bothwell Factory Cheese Shop reopened June 12, with limited inventory.

Testing for a return to production began Monday, June 24, and the plant began operating at close to full capacity on Thursday, June 27.  The full re-opening depended in part on local farmers, who stepped up to provide an alternate solution for whey disposal.

The plan, developed in concert with the province’s environmental regulators, allows Bothwell Cheese to discard the natural byproduct into a small number of farms’ earthen manure storage ponds, where it can be used as on-farm fertilizer. The temporary solution allows the plant to resume production while the damaged filtration room is repaired, a process that is expected to take several weeks.

“There is no doubt this has been a challenging time for our co-operative, our employees, our customers, and the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, who re-routed milk to other facilities during the disruption,” said Dalrymple.  “But thanks to the efforts of the Hanover Fire Department, our dedicated employees and the support of the local community, our Bothwell team has been able to get back to doing what they do best – making exceptional cheese.”

Bothwell Cheese is now back to producing its complete line of renowned cheeses and serving its customers across Canada. For more information about Bothwell Cheese and its products, visit

About Gay Lea Foods and Bothwell Cheese

Gay Lea Foods is a leading Canadian co-operative renowned for its community-focused values and high quality, innovative, and award-winning dairy and food products. With members on 1,300 dairy farms across Ontario and Manitoba, our farmers, shareholders and employees have collaborated for more than 65 years to enrich communities co-operatively, ensuring the value our business creates flows to the members of our co-operative, our employees and the communities we touch.

Bothwell Cheese, which has been crafting premium, all-natural cheeses in the village of New Bothwell, Manitoba since 1936, returned to its co-operative roots when it became a proud part of Gay Lea Foods in 2022.


Media Contact:

Robin Redstone, Senior Communications Manager

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