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Once Upon a Brewery: Part 3

Griggs continued to guide the company until the age of 74; in 1925, he disposed of his major holdings in the company to Detroit investors and retired.

After the change in ownership in 1925, the company invested $500,000 in capital improvements. A $50,000 bottling line extension was installed- the most up to date in the province at the time. No human hands touched the bottle nor its contents until after the bottle had been filled, capped and sterilized.

trucks-at-building.jpgStorage capacity was increased to 200,000 barrels, staffed by 140 men, with an additional 25 bodies during summer months, to handle increased production.

In  May 1925, the Ontario Government legalized the sale of 4.4 proof spirit beer called "Fergies Foam". The Walkerville Brewery shipped approximately 4,500 cases and 750 eight gallon and 13 gallon kegs in its first day! Huge crowds paraded the streets and jammed hotel lobbies and beverage rooms in the Border Cities, anxious to quaff the new 4.4 beer.

The Liquor Control Act of Ontario came into effect on June 1st  1927; pre- prohibition beer was made available to the public, effectively ending Prohibition in Canada.

Of the forty-four breweries that operated prior to prohibition only 15 remained; Walkerville Brewery was one of them. Full strength beer was for home consumption only, and hotels and taverns were only allowed only to serve 4.4 beer or ale.

In 1927, the Brewer's Warehousing Company was granted a charter for the distribution and sale of all brewery products along with the retail outlets attached to the breweries and a government inspector at each store.  

A  Detroit newspaper hailed the Motor City as the wettest city in the United States, despite continuing prohibition in the USA. Though four separate government agencies were enforcing prohibition laws, Canadian breweries and distillers were able to creatively move their product across the border.

In 1928, a $75,000 office building was built next to the plant. Walkerville introduced John Bull Ale about this time. With the collapse of the stock market in October 1929, and the beginning of the Great Depression, the market for beer also collapsed. Only the export business kept the company afloat, but with prohibition still in force in the USA, many breweries operated at less than 20 % capacity.

In 1934, the Ontario Liberal Government announced the legalization of full strength beer by the glass, allowing standard hotels to operate beverage rooms. In Windsor, the first license was issued to the Norton Palmer Hotel- by 10:30 am on July 24th, beer was flowing in most of the local hotels and clubs, to great aplomb.

To promote the sale of Walkerville beer products, the company resumed its traditional delivery system using teams of horses hauling old beerwagons, as in the early days of the brewery.

By 1939, the brewery entered foreign markets, including Trinidad, British West Indies, Jamaica and the Barbados. At the start of  World War II, Walkerville's industrial centre generated machinery for the war effort. With a huge demand for labour, men and women migrated into the region, generating strong demand for beer and ale; sales of Walkerville products soared. The brewery was producing well over 100,000 barrels of their "Old Style Lager, Rob Roy Ale" along with porter and stout.   (cont'd)

page 3/4

Part 4: click here

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



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