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Once Upon a Brewery: Part 4

Windsor soon faced a beer shortage, due to government restrictions imposed by the War Measures Act (industrial alcohol was used to make smokeless powder, syn-thetic rubber and pharma-ceutical products. This severely curtailed beer production by all breweries across the country- less than 10% of the 1942 total-while demand continued to grow.beerdrinkers.jpg

Windsor Mayor Art Reaume wrote to Prime Minister W. L. MacKenzie King, proposing a beer rationing scheme. In May 1943, a ration book was introduced for home consumption. Four cou-pons, each good for six bottles, were issued to those 21 years of age and over upon application; these coupons continued in use until January 1947.

For some time, Canadian Breweries, under instructions of E.P. Taylor, had been buying Walkerville Brewery shares on the open market. On March 18th, 1944, Canadian Breweries announced they had purchased the majority of all outstanding shares at a cost of $1,500,000. 

When Canadian Breweries took control of the Walkerville Brewery, Charles S. King, president of the British American Brewery, stated the plant would continue to operate under the Walkerville name but could consolidate at a later date with the British American firm.

The following year a change was made, not to consolidate with British American but with another Canadian Breweries subsidiary, Carling's Breweries of Waterloo. D. Clive Bette, president of Canadian Breweries, stated all Walkerville labels would change to Carling Breweries Limited (Walkerville) and would produce both "Carling's Red Cap Ale, and "Carling's Black Label Lager".

All Walkerville brewing production came under Carling's Waterloo control. During this period, alterations to the plant were carried out. This new name change was short lived, and  in 1947, a subsidiary of Canadian Breweries, O'Keefe's, took control of the Walkerville plant.

A new retail store was opened and modifications to the plant carried out. Because "O'Keefe's Old Vienna Lager" was  the company's flagship beer, the name was changed from O'Keefe's Brewery to O'Keefe's Old Vienna Brewery.

On Sept. 15th 1956, an official statement from Canadian Breweries head office in Toronto announced the closing of the Walkerville Brewery (which was still producing over 100,000 barrels a year), effective November 1st, 1956.

A. F. Fuerth president of the Bradings Brewery in Windsor, another Canadian Breweries subsidiary, stated that sales staff and the retail store would remain in Windsor and the building would be kept intact in the event it was needed  in the future.

However, the days of brewing beer in Walkerville were over. In January 1962, a permit was issued for the demolishing of the old brewery; demolition was completed  by June  '62. The retail store remained on site until 1965; when sales transferred to Brewers Retail in 1973, the former  O'Keefe's retail store was demolished. Today, nothing remains at the site of one Canada's finest breweries, and the location is now a Credit Union and storage centre.

But some things are too good to be left to history books. In 1998, Karen Behume and husband Michael Plunkett obtained the rights to use the name Walkerville Brewing Company. In an empty Hiram Walker warehouse, two blocks from the original brewery, Walkerville Lager is brewing once again- the region's first and only high calibre microbrewery. Thus, after fifty four years, Walkerville delivery vehicles are back on the streets of the Border Cities with their motto 'World-class beer, Made right here." As it was in the beginning...

Bill Marentette worked at The Walkerville Brewery as a teenager. His collection of Walkerville Brewery memorabilia is second to none.

Amherstburg Echo; American Breweries, Donald Bull, Manfred Freidrich and Robert Gottschank; Border Cities Star; Directories of Canadian Breweries, Richard Sweet; Evening Record; Taylor E. P. , Biography of Edward Plunket Taylor, Richard Rohmer; Shea, Albert A., Visions in Action, The Story of Canadian Breweries Ltd. 1935-1955 ; The Sheaf "The Canadian Breweries Employees Newspaper"; Windsor & District Telephone Directory 1927, Fall & Winter; Windsor Daily Star; Windsor Record; Windsor and Area City Directories; Windsor, Essex County Historical Scrap Books; Windsor Ontario 1931, Published by Windsor Record, Garner, H.; Windsor Public Library Main Branch, History & Literature

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