Canadian Breweries

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Canadian Breweries Limited was an Ontario based holding company in the brewery industry. In 1969, the company was sold to Rothmans inc. (Canada), and is now called Carling O'Keefe,[1] with its brands currently owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company.



Originally named Brewing Corporation of Ontario, E. P. Taylor created the company in 1930 by merging The Brading Breweries Limited, an Ottawa company Taylor had inherited from his grandfather, Capital Brewing of Ottawa, and Kuntz Brewery of Waterloo, Ontario. Soon afterward, Taylor acquired British American Brewing Company, a Windsor, Ontario brewery founded in 1882 and Carling Brewing Co., founded in London, Ontario in 1840. O'Keefe Brewery was added to Taylor's brewery interests in 1934.

Even when Canadian provinces prohibited alcohol consumption, federal law did not affect production for export. For some breweries, particularly those close to the U.S. border, a period of prosperity existed during Prohibition in the United States. E.P. Taylor also served as Vice President of Burmuda Export Co., a brewery industry company that aimed to control prices and exports of beer.[2][3]


Taylor's expansion was aggressive and, during the 1930s and 1940s, his holding company acquired about thirty Canadian brewers. The company changed its name to the Brewing Corporation of Canada and then to Canadian Breweries Limited in 1937. One notable executive was George Montegu Black II, the father of Conrad Black. Canadian Breweries was headed by president J.G. (Jack) Campbell.

The company became part of the Argus Corporation when Argus was founded by Taylor, and others, in 1945.

In 1953, the Canadian Restrictive Trade Practices Commission launched an investigation into the company,[4] later charging Canadian Breweries with being part of an illegal combine by its participation in a series of mergers that were a detriment to the public by lessening price competition.

The case was heard in the Ontario Court of Queen's Bench in the Fall of 1959 by Chief Justice McRuer as Regina v. Canadian Breweries Limited. The company's successful defence argued the rules did not apply to liquor sales, a business sector where prices were already regulated through legislation. A Canadian federal commission on corporate concentration also held[citation needed] that while Canadian Breweries had used questionable tactics to reduce competition, the concurrent growth of Molson and Labatt maintained adequate competition in the brewing industry.

Carling O'Keefe[edit]

In 1968, the shares of Canadian Breweries Limited were sold by Argus to Rothmans/Pall Mall for $28.8 million.[5] Canadian Breweries Limited was renamed for its two largest subsidiaries as Carling O'Keefe. In 1987 Rothmans decided to sell its 50 percent share in the Carling O'Keefe brewery in Canada, which was not meeting expectations.[6] Later, the company was controlled by Elders IXL, and then merged with Molson to become part of Molson Coors Brewing Company.

In 1969, the company was sold to a South Africa company Rothmans, and is now called Carling O'Keefe.[1]

Acquired companies[edit]

  • Rock Brewery, Geo. Bernhardt, Preston, Ont.

The Brading Breweries (Ottawa)

  • Capital Brewing (Ottawa)
  • Kuntz Brewery (Waterloo)
  • British American Brewing Company (Windsor)
  • Carling Brewing
  • O'Keefe (acquired 1934)
  • Taylor & Bates (closed 1936)
  • Dominion Brewery (founded by Robert T. Davies in 1879 and closed 1936)
  • Grant's Spring (closed 1932)
  • Regal Brewing (closed 1938)
  • Canada Bud Breweries Ltd (1936)
  • Cosgrave Export Brewery
  • Welland Brewery
  • Riverside Brewery (acquired and closed 1935)[7]
  • National Breweries (Montreal; acquired 1952)[8]



  1. ^ a b Gonick, Cy (1975-01-01). Inflation Or Depression: The Continuing Crisis of the Canadian Economy. James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 9780888620798.
  2. ^ "The Times - British American Brewery".
  3. ^ [1] A Brief History of Beer in Canada, by Derreck Eberts
  4. ^ [2] Craig Heron, Booze: a distilled history (2003), p. 306.
  5. ^ "The Times - British American Brewery".
  6. ^ "History of Rothmans UK Holdings Limited – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  7. ^ [3] Allen Winn Sneath, Brewed in Canada (2001), p. 385.
  8. ^ [4] Craig Heron, Booze: a distilled history (2003), p. 305.