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Once Upon a Brewery-Part 2

The company soon sent out over 500 embossed signs with their trade mark for use outside hotels or public houses. A common sight on the streets of the Border Cities was the dappled grey draught horses hitched to their brightly painted wagons delivering kegs of Walkerville beer and ale to the neighbourhood Inns and Hotels. Its beer was "PURITY, CLEANLINESS, SKILL AND UNEXCELLED MATERIAL", and was advertised as "Beer that is brewed in Glass".walker-brew-logo.jpg

In the spring of 1890, Walkers' distillery hired a maltster by the name of  John Bott, born in the Channel Islands, Great Britain, who arrived in Canada at the tender age of 18.

Bott had been engaged in the barley trade in Toronto for ten years before moving on to Chatham, Ontario. There, he worked for Howard & Northwood as a maltster for 8 years.

Botts' wine malt and stout were legendary. "BOTT'S MALT PREPARATIONS" received the highest award in its category at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, giving considerable fame to the Walkerville Brewing company where he was now employed. Using a German brewing method, he renamed Walkerville lager Kaiser Beer. Shortly after, a ''BARBAROSSA'' brand was introduced named for Frederick the first of Germany (1123-1190), who sported a red beard.

In 1895, Bott was named manager of the Walkerville Brewing Company, operating on 4 acres of land with newly remodelled ale and porter cellars. By now, the brewery was one of the finest and most complete breweries in Canada.walkerville-brewery.jpg

That same year, Edward Chandler Walker hired his schoolboy friend Stephen E. Griggs as manager of the breweries' United States operations, located at 131-146 Beaubien St., in downtown Detroit. The Walkerville Brewery purchased the Duncan Malt House and established a Detroit bottling plant with a capacity of 400,000 dozen bottles.  All brewing was done in Walkerville and shipped in kegs to Detroit, thus saving on excise duties. Through this agency, ale and lager was shipped all over the United States under the Robin Hood label.

By 1897, the plant increased its capacity to 150,000 barrels annually, a far cry from the 3,000 barrels produced just 7 years prior.

Shortly after taking charge of the Detroit operation, Mr. Griggs was named managing director of the main plant in Walkerville, and by 1905, became vice president and managing director of the brewery. Griggs was doing so well at the brewery Edward Chandler Walker asked him to assist at the Canadian Club distillery; he was made a director of Hiram Walker & Sons in 1908.

By 1911, shipments of  Walkerville Brewing lager, ale and porter were delivered as far west as Rainy River & Kenora. The main brands included Superior Lager, St. George's and Rob Roy Ale.

Griggs resigned as director of the CC distillery and devoted himself to making Walkerville Brewing a showplace. Located in the centre of  Walkerville, it soon became a top tourist attraction, with thousands touring the bottling shop and large cellars, where barrels of the amber nectar were stored. 

In 1913, E. Chandler gave Griggs $5,000 worth of  Walkerville Stock- later Griggs purchased shares held by John Bott, the former manager of the brewery, effectively giving him control of the company. Griggs was then made president of the Walkerville Brewing Company.rob-roy.jpg

That same year, the company employed over 55 employees, the plant consumed over two million pounds of malt, thirty thousand pounds of hops, filled thousands of glass bottles and four thousand new kegs annually.

The brewery introduced Continental, marketed XXX Porter and a stout for medicinal purposes-  despite Hiram Walker's passing in 1899, the brewery was living up to his lofty standards!

Hiram Walker's son, Edward Chandler Walker, in poor health for a number of years, died on March 11, 1915, at the age of 64. Among the many legacies in his will was a large amount of money left to his schoolboy friend, Stephen E. Griggs, who became the full owner of the Walkerville Brewery.

 By 1916, with the "war to end all wars" raging in Europe, the provincial government enacted the Ontario Temperance Act, banning the selling of liquor or beer; this lasted until the end of the war.

In October 1919, a referendum was held to determine whether the act should be repealed or retained on a peacetime basis. The citizens of Ontario voted with a four hundred thousand majority to establish 'prohibition' as the permanent law of the province.

By 1920, the USA also went dry when Congress passed the Volstead Act, prohibiting the manufacturing or selling of intoxicating alcohol; this remained in force until 1933.

Like many other brew-eries during prohibition, Walkerville produced non-intoxicating beverages containing less than 1% alcohol. The company claimed it as refreshing as full strength beer, under the labels Continental Lager and Scotch Boy Ale.

During prohibition, the brewery established "export docks" in Lasalle; boats would load Walkerville products day and night. It also had a "Night Order Only" shipping clerk at the brewery and would ship to various export docks.   (cont'd)

page 2 of 4

click here to read part 3

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Brewing Tradition Returns to Olde Walkerville (April/May 2000)



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