Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tuesday Treasures

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My Corner of the World

July 2019 - Toronto ON

Toronto Brews

On display at the Market Gallery from July 13, 2019 until December 28, 2019

Craft beer may be all the rage today in Toronto, but the city has a brewing tradition that began over two centuries ago. Through artifacts, artworks, archival images and videos, you can explore this rich legacy in the Market Gallery's new exhibition. The story begins with tiny breweries established in the early 1800s, then covers the scaling-up of the industry in Victorian times, the impact of Prohibition, the rise of Canada's macrobrewers in the first half of the 20th century, and ends with a look at the microbrewery movement since 1985 and contemporary craft-beer culture.

I was first greeted by this friendly face.
Joseph Bloor is a Victorian businessman, landowner, and philanthropist who operated a brewery from 1830 to 1843 in the Rosedale Valley near the intersection of Sherbourne Street and First Concession Road, the latter now known as Bloor Street.

In 1832 William Helliwell became a partner and manager of the brewery established by his father by the Don River at Todmorden Mills. He continued in this line of work until 1847 when the mills were destroyed by fire. He then moved to Highland Creek (Scarborough), building and operating mills there.

Toronto Brewing and Malting was established in the late 1850s by John A. and Thomas P. Aldwell. The Toronto Brewing and Malting Co. Ltd. was organized in 1874, and re-organized in the late 1880s. By 1910, the Cosgrave Brewery had acquired and was operating it. In 1921, a Montreal syndicate purchased the plant. Several attempts were made to reactivate the company from 1924 to 1927 with little success. In October 1928, the name of the company was changed to Canada Bud Breweries Ltd. In 1931, Canada Bud acquired the insolvent City Club Brewery and operated it as a subsidiary until 1937. Canadian Breweries Ltd. purchased Canada Bud in 1937 and discontinued all their labels in January 1944. In 1967, the brewery was closed and has been torn down.
Location: William Street, north of Dundas Street and west of University Avenue

The Dominion Brewery was a brewery in Toronto that operated from 1878 until 1936.

The brewery was founded by Robert T. Davies in 1877. Davies had been a manager at his brother Thomas' brewery, the Don Brewery on the Don River at Queen Street East in Toronto. The new brewery opened in 1878, built less than two city blocks away, on Queen Street just west of Sumach Street. Davies had brewed ale and porter varieties, but hired German experts to make lager. The name of the brewery was synonymous with its aim, to be available across Canada, which stretched more Ontario east to the Maritimes. The brewery won awards in 1885 at a competition in New Orleans and continued to enter its products in competitions, with the awards prominently displayed on the labels of the bottles. Being especially proud of its win for an India pale ale product, the label of the beer was replaced with a replica of the award certificate and renamed White Label Ale. By 1888, the brewery shipped over one million gallons of beer annually.

The brewery's west wing and south main wing are both still in existence, having been converted to commercial space, as used by Vistek. The nearby Dominion Hotel, an affiliated business, operated for a number of years, however since 2015 it is now home to the pub Dominion on Queen.

Yes, we've had a beer here.

Eugene O'Keefe, a banker, purchased the Hannath & Hart Brewery in 1862. By 1864, one of his partners had died, while the other Patrick Cosgrave left to found his own brewery. The business was renamed O'Keefe and Company. It was the first to produce lager beer in Canada along with the traditional ale and porter.In 1891 the company was incorporated as O'Keefe Brewing Company Limited. In 1911 another new brewery was built with an annual capacity of 500,000 barrels. O'Keefe was one of the first to use trucks for beer delivery, the first to build a mechanically refrigerated warehouse, and one of the first to advertise extensively.

Robert Defries Sr. established the Reinhardt & Co Select Toronto Brewery, originally known as the East End Brewery, in 1861. Later proprietors of the brewery include Lothar Reinhardt, Hugh Thompson. Thomas Allen, Oliver Allen and Charles Laister. In 1908 the company was re-organized as the Reinhardt Salvadore Brewery Ltd. It closed during prohibition but re-opened in 1927, as the Reinhardt Brewery Co. Ltd.

In 1901, Prohibition in Canada began through a provincial legislation in Prince Edward Island. In 1916, prohibition was instituted in Ontario as well, affecting all 64 breweries in the province. Although some provinces totally banned alcohol manufacture, some permitted production for export to the United States. Labatt survived by producing full strength beer for export south of the border and by introducing two "temperance ales" with less than two per cent alcohol for sale in Ontario. However, the Canadian beer industry suffered a second blow when Prohibition in the United States began in 1919. When Prohibition was repealed in Ontario in 1926, just 15 breweries remained, and only Labatt retained its original management. This resulted in a strengthened industry position. In 1945, Labatt became a publicly traded company with the issuance of 900,000 shares.

John and Hugh Labatt, grandsons of founder John K. Labatt, launched Labatt 50 in 1950 to commemorate 50 years of partnership. The first light ale introduced in Canada, Labatt 50 was Canada's best-selling beer until 1979.

This was the beer that my Dad and uncles drank when I was growing up.

Despite having prohibition from 1916 until 1927 in Ontario, the government allowed for numerous exceptions. Wineries were exempted from closure, and various breweries and distilleries remained open for the export market. In Hamilton,  Rocco Perri specialized in exporting liquor from old Canadian distilleries, such as Seagram and Gooderham and Worts (now the Distillery District) to the United States, and helped these companies obtain a large share of the American market. In London, Ontario, Harry Low and his group of rum-runners bought the Carling Brewery, while the Labatt family left the operations to the manager Edmund Burke. The fact that the "export" might be by small boat from Windsor across the river to Detroit only helped the province's economy. 

The Liquor Control Act of 1927 allowed for the sale of alcoholic beverages for individual purchase, but public drinking of full strength alcohol (in pubs, taverns, restaurants, beverage rooms) remained illegal. Subsequently, the Liquor Control Act of 1934 permitted public drinking, but only in hotel beverage rooms where beer was permitted, and dining rooms where beer and wine was permitted with meals.

The presence of women within drinking establishments along with unmarried men, prompted a moral outcry against the possible sexual impropriety inspired by “mixed” drinking within male beverage rooms in the mid 1930s (The Globe September 18th 1934, “Trustee Observes Girls Being Brought Out of Beer Rooms”; The Globe, March 6th 1935, “50 Girls seen Drinking By Minister”). In response, the LCBO drafted new regulations in 1937 that required licenced establishments to have “two separate and distinct beverage rooms – one for men only, and the other solely for women, except where attended by bona fide escorts” (The Globe March 29, 1937, “Liquor Board to Curb Mixed Drinking in Ontario Hotels, New Rules to Require Two Rooms”).

Flash forward to 2019 and Toronto’s beer scene is burgeoning and can already boast 30+ breweries. Click here for a 2017 list.


  1. All the same crap here with women in pubs in the 20th century. It was about 1969 when the mould was broken for women, but not for black people.

    1. I remember my parents going out for a drink on a Sunday afternoon and having to buy a cardboard sandwich. I also remember that as kids (in Montreal) we couldn't go into a liquor store with our parents, had to wait outside, go figure. Then they would fill out a form (name, address and stuff) and order from someone behind a counter and it would be put in a brown paper bag!

  2. ...Jackie, I found your reply to Andrew interesting. Perhaps 60 years ago my family visited Quebec City and on a Sunday afternoon we stopped to get a bite eat. All around us people were being served a beer and a cheese sandwich on white bread, as a kid I thought that was the strangest thing. I love all of your advertising. You seem to be a bit of a beer binge lately! Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Funny you remember that!

      I just found this article about serving beer on Sunday at the CNE, or the Ex as we call it. The Ex is currently running.


  3. Wonderful old labels, I liked them a lot!

  4. Bloor's face reminds me of someone of that era who was only photographed once- as a corpse.

    1. It's true, William. It is the only photo you ever see of him.

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  6. Fascinating bits of history in this post! Thanks for sharing it with us at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/08/faces-of-forrest.html

  7. Such a great piece of history! The story is fantastic as are the photos.
    Your link at 'My Corner of the World' this week sure made my day!

    My Corner of the World


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