Beef Rings in Tay




The following piece was contributed by Glenn Mount of Huntsville, formerly of Reeves  Road, Tay Township.   The gentleman in the picture is Matthew Mount (1824 – 1904), his great grandfather. Glenn  believes that he was the first Mount in Tay, having arrived from Mountsberg, off Hwy 6, north of Hamilton. The records from there indicate one of the sons moved to Simcoe County and was a cooper. 



Has anyone written about rural “beef rings”? We belonged to one on the 5th conc. and there was a slaughter house on the E-W sideroad leading down into Hog valley (Moores Corners sideroad).

This quote is taken from Wikipedia:

“Beef rings were common among North American farmers who had no means for refrigeration of meat until the turn of the 20th century. Although pigs were small enough that a smoked pork carcass could be consumed by a single farming family before the meat spoiled, the same was not true of cattle, and smoked or salted beef was not popular in any case.[1]

After obtaining the slaughtered steer, the meat would be distributed among the members of the cooperative, providing them with a steak, a roast, and a boiling joint each week.[1]By slaughtering each animal in sequence, the cooperative ensured that all members received fresh meat throughout the summer. Distributions were weighed, so that each member received a fair share of the meat.[2]

Beef rings died out for several reasons, including technological advances in refrigeration, greater economic prosperity for farmers, greater independence, and the ability of farmers to buy meat at butchers’ shops rather than slaughter and store it themselves.[2]}}

In the mid 1940’s there was an active “beef ring” that centered around the slaughter house at the corner of the 5th conc. of Tay [Reeves Rd] and the sideroad that went west down into Hogg valley. Once every two weeks one of the share members had to supply a steer for slaughter and a few days later, we would go to the slaughter house to get our portion. Along one wall would be hooks with cotton bags, [heavier than a pillow case] in which was your portion. A member always had two bags on the go; one to take the meat home in and one to leave for the next slaughter.

We, being a small household, only had 1/2 a share so received an equivalent share of meat. That also meant that we would be paired with another 1/2 share to supply the beast when it was our turn. We would often pick up neighbour’s bags and deliver them on the way home. I believe that a members’ meeting was held during the winter to prepare the roster for the coming summer. Sometimes there would be complaints that the animal someone provided was of poor quality – thus that week’s meat was inferior. As the Wikipedia article states, once home freezers were available, etc. the whole concept of beef rings died out. I am not sure in what year the Tay one closed down. The old slaughterhouse stood for sometime after, but is gone now.


Glenn Mount, Huntsville


This entry was posted in agricultural, community, heritage, rural Tay and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Beef Rings in Tay

  1. Glenn Mount says:

    Thanks for using that piece. One note; since my wife died last summer, I have relocated from Welland to Huntsville ON. Getting closer to my roots.

    Glenn “Because He lives…..”


  2. John Blair says:

    My grandfather Walter Montgomery belonged to a beef-ring. We lived in Tay, Lot 88, Concession 2, but the slaughter house was in Medonte, just south of the town line (on Scarlett Road). I remember riding with him in the car while he delivered the sacks of beef. He was also a butcher at the slaughter house at one time. We stored the meat in a freezer building which I believe was located approximately behind Giannetto’s Food store in Midland. There was a cold storage building in Elmvale as well.

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