Business

No milk today: Vancouver milkman makes his final rounds

Mike Bryan has been delivering milk, eggs and butter to homes and businesses for three decades

Article content

You may be surprised to learn that Dairyland still does home milk delivery. But not for much longer — the company is ending the service at the end of March.

Mike Bryan is one of six milkmen still making their rounds for Dairyland in Metro Vancouver. He delivers milk, eggs, butter and an assortment of other groceries to about 50 homes a week, along with many downtown businesses.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

“The majority of the volume on my route is businesses,” said Bryan.

“There’s a couple of routes, one on the west side of Vancouver and one on the North Shore, where I’d say their volume was probably 50-50, if not a little more homes. They have quite a bit more than I do.

“I do the whole downtown core. So I do a lot of office buildings, lawyer’s offices, architects, engineering firm, etc.”

Bryan’s been a milkman since 1995, when Dairyland first announced it was getting out of home delivery. There was a public outcry, and Dairyland compromised by hiring “franchisees,” private owner-operators who continued to deliver milk.

milk 3
Mike Bryan with his milk truck in Vancouver, B.C., March 21, 2024. Dairyland (which is now Saputo) is stopping home delivery of milk at the end of March. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Bryan was a Dairyland employee, and got an employee discount of $20,000 when he bought a route. It even came with a milk truck, although he’s since replaced it with a 2000 Freightliner van.

One of the drawbacks of being a milkman is you have to wake up at an ungodly hour.

“I get up at quarter to four, get to Dairyland at 4:10 or something and start loading my truck there,” he said. “Then I’m probably into my first call around six by the time I get downtown.”

The big plus is the people you meet. Bryan has become friends with many of his customers, who almost treat him like family.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“It’s maybe cliché, but it’s always about the relationships you make in any business,” said Bryan.

“But particularly in ours. You’re walking into people’s houses. In some cases I put it in their fridge for them, I check and see what they need. ‘Oh you need one of those, one of these.’ It’s that type of business. And we talk about everything.”

Sidney Madden said her family looks forward to his deliveries.

“He comes Thursday mornings at around 8 o’clock, lugs the crate in and then goes off to deliver to other people and downtown to the offices,” said Madden, who lives in the Arbutus Ridge neighbourhood of Vancouver.

“There are long chats between my husband John (and Bryan). Anybody who’s visited us has met (Bryan). He’s remarkable because of his interest, his knowledge and his curiosity about almost every subject that my husband can dream up of talking about.”

milk
Dairyland milkman delivering in a snowstorm. Art Jones, Artray/ Vancouver Public Library collection VPL: 81514C

Bryan loves the interaction with his customers.

“You always have little chats in the morning,” he said. “(But) sometimes you watch your watch: ‘OK, I can only spend 10 minutes here, or I’ll be out here ‘til midnight.’”

Advertisement 4

Article content

Dairyland is now owned by Saputo, a Montreal company that has become one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, with branches in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Argentina.

Saputo didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Bryan isn’t surprised that they’re nixing home delivery: The service has been shrinking for years.

“I think when I first started there were 30 routes in 1995,” he said.

“We’re down to six now. Back in the day there was always someone home during the day, one person working per family. Now both parents are usually working, so there’s not as many people at home and all that thing.”

In his case, COVID had a huge impact.

“I used to have a fellow who worked with me every day because I had so much work, but I had to lay him off,” he said.

“I probably lost 60 to 70 per cent of my business when the pandemic hit because I had so many commercial calls. A lot of the customers have come back, but they’re half the volume, if that, because so many people work from home now.”

At 67, Bryan could retire. But a school delivery service the milkmen have been working with has asked him to stay on, so he will.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“We deliver a different food or vegetable to all the public schools for 24 weeks out of the year,” he said.

“It’s like a part-time job, but at my age I couldn’t have asked for anything better. You get school time off.”

In case you were wondering, milkmen have been doing their rounds in Vancouver since the city was incorporated in 1886. Dairyland started off as the Fraser Valley Milk Producers co-op in 1913.

“It was a co-op of all the farmers, and Dairyland was their brand name,” said Bryan.

“That changed around 1995 when they amalgamated with a co-op in Alberta, (when) they called themselves Dairy World foods. Saputo took it over in 2000.”

[email protected]

Recommended from Editorial


Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.

You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.

Article content

Source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK SEO BACKLINK