History Byte – Copland’s Brewery

While doing some research in the Globe and Mail archives, I stumbled upon an article describing a few of the larger breweries in Toronto in 1867.  For this post, I’ve transcribed the portion on Copland’s Brewery.  The next post will be the transcription of the article on the William Street Brewery.


This brewery which is built of brick and is of the most substantial description, is situated at the foot of Parliament street.  The machinery is worked by steam and the building is fitted up with all the modern improvements in brewing.  If worked to its full extent it is capable of brewing about 7,000 gallons of ale per week, and its malting capacity is 20,000 bushels of grain during the season.

This tidbit was published as part of the Globe newspaper’s annual review of the Trade of Toronto.  You can check out the full paper here.  Copelands brewery is a bit of a mystery for me at the moment as I haven’t found another reference to it.  There are references to Copland’s brewery, but that brewery wasn’t founded until 1883.  The proprietor of Copland’s brewery, William Copland first appears in the records in 1851 but he is listed as the proprietor of the East Toronto Brewery -which was located on King Street East, East of Jarvis.  This location is not too far from what was the foot of Parliament street.  It seems likely that the Copeland Brewery noted in the Globe is actually the East Toronto Brewery which was being run by William Copland in 1866.  If anyone out there has come across another early reference to Copeland’s brewery or has more information on the East Toronto Brewery, leave me a reply!


30 thoughts on “History Byte – Copland’s Brewery

  1. I have an old clay beer bottle wth “Copland brewing co Ltd Toronto” would like to find out more about it is possible.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      Sorry for the delay in responding, I’d like to learn some more about Copland Brewing too. Do you have an picture of the bottle? I may be able to help you!

  2. Found this site:
    Has a pic labelled: “W. Copeland’s East Toronto Brewery”.


    William Copland started his brewing operations in the 1830s. Located first on Yonge St., Copland built a larger facility in 1847, which was named East Toronto Brewery. The address was 55 Parliament St. (near King St. East). In 1882, Copland sold the brewery to some of his employees, who renamed it Toronto Brewing and Malting Co.. The assessment rolls for 1889 listed the value of the business as $569,500. The maltster and assistant brewer each earned a salary of $400 per year, while the manager and brewer drew salaries of $1500 per year.

    Click the next button for more images later one.

  3. Facts don’t above don’t necessarily check out. Next image has a Copland Brewing Co invoice dated 1895 on Parliament Street. If he sold it in 1882, then perhaps it was at a different location. Also, it was renamed Toronto Brewing & Malting Co which was located on Simcoe St north of Dundas. So this doesn’t seem correct either, since other sites state that Toronto Brewing & Malting Co was purchased at auction in 1874 from a brewery founded by John & Thomas Aldwell.

    To complicate further, the same site a few slides later states:
    “William Copland retired in 1860, and his son William Jr took over the brewery. The operation was sold in 1882 to Hime, Millett & Co, a group who had previously been involved with the Toronto Brewing and Malting Co., which renamed it the Copland Brewing & Malting Co.. In 1894, Thomas B. Taylor purchased the company and in 1901 added the Ontario Brewing & Malting Co. plant on King Street as a second brewery…. This label dates to about 1900.”

    So he couldn’t have sold East Toronto Brewery in 1882 if he retired in 1860. I suppose if I sorted through the documents on that site enough the story could be put together.

    1. I just purchased an ashtray advertising Copland’s Stock Ale. It is blue metal with white where the writing is (the writing is also blue). It also says Tonic Stout and Red Ribbon Beer. Excellent condition. Thought is was cool. I’ve got quite a collection of antique and unique ashtrays over the years.

  4. Piecing it all together it looks like WIlliam Copland started brewing on Yonge Street in the 1830’s. In 1847 he opened East Toronto Brewery at 55 Parliament. Somewhere along the lines it was passed to William Copeland Jr. Incorporated in 1881. Sold in 1882 to a group of brewers formerly from Toronto Brewing & Malting Co, who renamed it Copland Brewing & Malting Co. In 1901, they acquired Ontario Brewing & Malting Co as a second location for Copland Brewing, located at 311 King Street East.

  5. I have a bottle opener that says Coplands Ale Lager – it has a woman’s head on one side and a full woman’s nude body standing in water on the reverse side. Does anyone have any information on these openers and the time frame they were distributed? It also has imprinted C.T.G.O. Co PATD Chicago. Thanks

  6. I also have a bottle opener shaped as a ladies boot. It has “compliments of Copland brewing co limited toronto” on one side of it.

  7. I just found a small pamphlet called “1915 Vest Pocket Reference Annual” put out by Copland Brewing Co in Toronto. A lot of horse racing and human sport records as well as interesting info like a postcard could be mailed for 1 cent and a letter to Canada or any where in the Empire, 2 cents. If only….

    It also says they produce a Pale Ale, a Half and Half, a Budweiser, a XXXPorter, and a Special Brewed Ale. FYI

    1. Is that in your personal collection, or did you come across it online? If you have a picture, I’d be thrilled to post it for our other readers.

      1. It is my personal collection now. I got it in “stuff” from Mum’s estate. It would have belonged to one of my grandfather’s. First time I saw it was yesterday.

      2. I have a picture of the front and back inside covers and the title page for you. How do I send it?

  8. In cleaning out my mom’s basement,after her death, I found a full bottle of a beer that was made by “THE COPLAND BREWING Co LIMITED TORONTO”. The partial label reads COPLAND TONIC- STOUT. It also says Copland’s Malt and Dr. Jackson’s Meal. In small letters there is this interesting description. “A Tonic Beverage In A Class Entirely Its Own Of Special Nutritive importance To Mothers, Convalescents, Aged, Infirm, And All Requiring Aid To Digestion and Nutrition. Made From Ingredients Of Highest Nutritive And Tonic Value, Including Dr. Jackson’s Meal”. The label says it contains 9% proof spirits. Can anyone shed any background to this?

    1. Hi Richard,

      I realize it’s 6 months since you posted this, so I hope this reply still reaches you. I’ve been collecting older Canadian beer bottles for nearly 30 years (including many from this era) and should be able to provide more insight and information. I’d love to see a pic of this bottle as well if possible, as visual details such as graphics, fonts and possible lithographer markings provide more clues. Please let me know.



      1. Hello Rich Got your message and thank for your interest. I can take some pictures of the bottle of beer for you, but I don’t know how to get them attached to this note or this site. Any suggestions what I can do. Thanx, Richard

      2. Hi Richard,

        Sorry for my delayed response as I was away for the weekend.

        You can contact me via my hotmail account, which is richvan#outlook.com (please substitute the # with an @ sign).



  9. I have a Copland Brewing co. ltd. bottle opener that has a patent date of march 12 1912.It is a womans boot.Seems they knew way back then that sex sells.

  10. My 3rd great grandfather was William Copland so I am very interested in any information I can get about the Copland Brewing Company. Lots of interesting things in this site.

    1. Hi Bill, We’re not experts on bottles or glassware in Ontario so we won’t be able to give you an exact date. The Copland/Copeland name was associated with breweries and brewers in Toronto as early as 1853, but your bottle more likely dates to after 1900. There was a Copland Brewery in operation between 1883 and 1920 and the name was briefly revived between 1929 and 1930. Check out https://blackcreekbrewery.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/copland-brewing-co-1915/ and see if your bottle bears any resemblance to the ones in the advert.

  11. Folks, if any of you can send me any photos or information you have, I’d appreciate it. My company recently launched an ale for our business anniversary. Tonight, on an episode of Murdoch Mysteries, there was a “Copeland Brewery, est 1876” noted. tom (at) eagle.ca

  12. Old green bottle Paper label PAT’S ALE
    COPLAND BREWING TORONTO There is more on the label but it has been put in storage Part of the label is missing I could get it out of storage for a picture if you would like a picture

  13. I have been researching my family and found that my great grandfather worked at Copland as a cellerman from 1901 to 1914. Thanks for this site. it helps paint a picture for me.

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