O’Keefe’s Brewery


O'Keefe's Brewery. The Empress Hotel occupied the south corner of Yonge and Gould.

I had an interesting comment from a reader about the fire at Yonge and Victoria streets in downtown Toronto.  The reader commented about the destruction of the O’Keefe brewery as a result of the fire.  While the reader was close, the fire actually destroyed the mortal remains of the Empress Hotel, which was built in 1888.  Heritage Toronto has a great article about the Empress and the legacy of the building’s various inhabitants.  O’Keefe’s brewery was located next door, to the east of the Empress.  The buildings were once separated by a laneway originally called Victoria lane, and later changed to O’Keefe lane.  Prior to becoming O’Keefe’s brewery, the brewery operated under several names including the Victoria brewery and the Hannath & Hart brewery.  The original brewery building dated back to 1840, but underwent major renovations in 1872, 1882 and 1889.  In 1891 the original building was torn down and a new building was constructed that included larger facilities and an on-site malthouse.  Another major renovation followed in 1911.  O’Keefe’s brewery was purchased by Carling Brewing Co. in 1916 and changed hands many times eventually ending up as part of Molson Coors Brewing Company.  The brewery buildings were demolished in the 1980s to make way for the Ryerson University building that houses a parking garage, bookstore and AMC theatre that now stands on the site.

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4 Comments

Filed under Brewing History

4 responses to “O’Keefe’s Brewery

  1. Robert Wright

    Many Many years ago I worked as a bike delivery for a company.. The office was on Gould street . The brewery lane was within sight of our office. Every once and a while the brewery would dump the used mash.. They funnelled it into a big two horse drawn cart. The odor of beer permiated the area ,Starting in the morning every thing was fine. As the day wore on and the loads continued both the driver and the horses would become inebriated. Funny to watch a drunken driver with two drunken horses try to navigate the lane. There was also a group that would snatch buckets of the mash from the cart./ I understand that they would run the mash through cheese cloth and get a drink or two There was also a policemen at both ends of the lane. By the end of the day they were holding up the buildings

  2. I was wondering if you would know the date & value of a 6 1/2 ounce bottle of O’keefe’s still capped beer still in it? LOL Just a curiosity.

    • karellp

      Hi Lisa,

      I can’t provide you with a value of your bottle as we are a museum, but I can suggest some resources for you. O’Keefe’s was brewing under their own name up until 1970 when they became ‘Carling O’Keefe’. If the label has only O’Keefe listed on it, you know it’s prior to 1970. Without seeing the bottle/label it’s impossible to put a date on it. As for value, to get a general idea of market value, check out ebay or a similiar site and see if they have a comparable bottle for sale. The beer has certainly spoiled, so the value will be in the condition of the bottle itself. If you’re still interested in finding out more information about your bottle, try the references listed on the Early Canadian Bottle Works website. Good luck!

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