A Piece of Good Advice

In 1557, Thomas Tusser provided us with “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry.”  While covering a range of diverse topics, he managed to slip in a little poem outlining tips for growing hops.

“Chuse soil for the hop, of rottenest mould,

Well dunged and wrought, as a garden plot should;

Not far from the water (but not overflowne),

This lesson well noted, is meet to be known.

The sun in the south, or else southly and west,

Is joy to the hop as a welcomed guest;

But wind in the north, or else northerly east,

To hop is as ill, as fray in a feast.”

The advice must have been good, as a whopping 310 years later a correspondent to The Canadian Farmer felt it important to remind hops farmers of the wisdom contained in the verse.  Much of the discussion among Victorian hops farmers around the world centered on sheltering and manuring, as it was believed that soil quality and wind were the two main factors affecting the success of the harvest, as well as the susceptibility of the bines to mould and pests such as the much hated hops aphis.

On a side note, Thomas Tussler is probably best known today for contributing the proverb ” A fool and his money are soon parted.”  You can read the full text of his book here  with thanks to Google books!

Chasing William Copland

The Queen City Malting Co and East Toronto Brewery

I came across a reference to William Copland junior, in the 1856 Brown’s Toronto General Directory.  He’s listed under the East Toronto Brewery, on the south side of King-street east between Berkeley and Princess Streets, where the Toronto Sun building now stands.  There isn’t another mention of the brewery until it pops up in the 1885 Toronto directory under the name The Queen City Brewing and Malting Co., with a new address of 186-188 Front Street east.  Despite different street addresses, it appears the two breweries inhabited the same space.  That same year, we have a listing for Copland’s Brewing and Malting Co., at a new location, 55 Parliament Street, just around the corner at Parliament between Derby and Front street (Front was known as Palace street at the time).  The brewery is also listed as The Toronto East Brewery, just to confuse matters!  It seems that the Toronto East Brewery originally occupied the space on King Street and later moved to new(?) facilities around the corner on Parliament.  The former home of the Toronto East Brewery is now 51 Division Police headquarters.

Hops cultivation in Victorian Ontario

Sometimes in research, you come across a golden source.  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it’s a great thing!  In my case, my golden source at the moment is The Canada Farmer.  This periodical was published in Toronto between 1864 and 1868 before merging with another publication and becoming the Globe and Canadian Farmer.  I’ve been continuing my research into hops production in Ontario during our time period to provide more information to our gardener and brewer on what varieties of hops were grown in Ontario in the 1860s and on the cultivation and preservation of hops.

The Canada Farmer is an excellent source as it is largely comprised of farmers writing to one another about their triumphs, tribulations and concerns.  From reading the articles, it’s easy to see the development of the hops industry, beginning in the northeastern U.S.A and gradually moving into southern Ontario in the mid 1860s.  What else one sees, is the introduction of the hops aphis, a pest that decimated English hop plants in the early 1860s, that made the move to North America, beginning in the States and moving into Ontario in 1868. 

The next few posts will be about domestic hops production in Ontario and the northern United States.

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.

Happy New Year!

A hearty welcome to 2011!  Black Creek Pioneer Village is closed until May 1st, 2011 and our historic brewery is closed for the off season.  Don’t despair!  Our Black Creek Porter is still available in LCBOs in and around Toronto and we are continuing to make our commerical brews year round with Pioneer Breweries.  To find an LCBO near you that stocks our beer, check out their product locator and enter our LCBO number – 188862!