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The History of COBA

Records that have been kept by the Burke family, of Burkes’ Honey show that the Victoria County Beekeepers Association officially formed in 1910.

Mr. F.R.Whiteside of Little Britain, the first commercial beekeeper in the county organized the first meeting and served as its first president. A constitution was written and annual membership fees of $1.00 were established.

Although we do not have information on the formation of other clubs within Central Ontario, the Ontario Beekeepers and the Agricultural College of Guelph were both encouraging clubs in the local area around 1910.

The Victoria Club began that year with over 27 members in good standing, but by 1928 the number had dwindled to eight. At this point, The Ontario Beekeepers’ Association of Guelph informed Huber Burke, (then president of the Victoria County Beekeepers and grandfather of Brian Burke, the current owner of Burke’s Honey), that a minimum of 10 members were required to maintain a county society.

Perhaps the other county associations were coming under similar pressure, and we are assuming that shortly after 1928 there was a union of several county societies to form the Central Beekeepers Association which includes Victoria, Peterborough and Northumberland.

Lorne Thurston, of Dunsford, who has been a member of COBA since the late 1940’s recalls that at that time the organization was called the Central Ontario Honey Producers Association and included Durham County, which has since formed its own association.

Membership fees at that time were still $1.00 with OBA sending a grant of $100 to cover the costs of running the association. This money came partially from a levy that was placed on the sale of metal honey containers.

In the 40’s & 50’s, the fall banquets were held in the upstairs of the former Peterborough YMCA building on George St. and the spring meetings at the Peterborough Normal School.

Sometime in the 1960’s, the name was changed from “Honey Producers”, to “Beekeepers Association”. Our roots are therefore 100 years deep as we continue the traditions of the Central Ontario Beekeepers. These traditions include having local beekeepers meeting several times a year to enlighten, encourage and share the joys of beekeeping.

If you have more information to add to the History of COBA, please forward to for inclusion in this article.

Submitted by: Glen McMullen, using information gathered by Gord Burke, (son of Huber, uncle of Brian) and Lorne Thurston.