Remembering the days of "Cranberry Country"

By Tanner Harding | Apr 19, 2017
Courtesy of: Hayden Manufacturing Co. A 1950s-era Darlington Dry Harvester, produced by Hayden Manufacturing Company.

Rochester — In the not-so-distant past, Rochester and Wareham were affectionately referred to by their townspeople as "Cranberry Country."

While the name is still in use, these days it evokes nostalgia for days gone by, rather than present fact.

David and Ray St. Jacques took helped evoke that nostalgia when they stopped by the Rochester Historical Society on Wednesday night, with stories from years in the cranberry business. The brothers own Hayden Manufacturing Co., a venerable business in the cranberry industry, which existed throughout Massachusetts' reign as the country's leading cranberry producer.

The St. Jacques family has owned Hayden Manufacturing Co. since 1927, when David and Ray's grandparents Emile and Marie purchased the company. That's 43 years after the company was formed, and 35 years after the company invented the Hayden separator– a revolutionary tool in the cranberry industry.

The Hayden separator could clean and sort through 100 barrels (10,000 pounds) of cranberries every day. The separator saved many hours of time spent sorting cranberries by hand. The much quicker method meant larger profit margins for growers, as they could ship out many more cranberries at a quicker rate.

When the St. Jacques family purchased Hayden Manufacturing in 1927, they also chose to move it to Main Street in Wareham.

While located there, Emile invented a motorized DDT duster for cranberries, which the family later adapted to dust other crops, like strawberries and corn.

Emile passed away in 1956, and was succeeded by his son Robert St. Jacques. Robert moved the company to it's present location - 50 Carver Rd, West Wareham. The building was previously the screening building for Eatmor Cranberries, and is over 100 years old.

In the 1950s, Robert purchased the pattern for the Darlington Dry Cranberry Harvester. The company still manufactures the harvester today, alongside several other pieces of bog equipment.

More recently, the company has branched out to include an antique store in their West Wareham building. The store is still in possession of a 1920s-era pruning rake available to view - the pruning rakes the business sells today are not much different.

The antique store has eight rooms full of antiques, and still sells cranberry separators. Some of them are new, but the majority are refurbished. The brothers admitted that many of the items for sale are items they had to buy back after their father gave them away.

To visit the shop and browse through cranberry-themed antiques, visit 50 Carver Road in West Wareham.

Hayden Manufacturing Company owner Emile St. Jacques (left) and his son and successor Robert St. Jacques (right). (Courtesy of: Hayden Manufacturing Co)
An early DDT-duster for cranberry bogs, developed by Hayden Manufacturing Co. (Courtesy of: Hayden Manufacturing Co)
A refurbished Hayden Cranberry Separator at Hayden Manufacturing's antique store. (Courtesy of: Hayden Manufacturing Co)
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