Photo Du JourWindsor

Walkerville – 1899 – Part I

Into the time machine today. We’re heading back to 1899, back when Walkerville was still a separate town. Out of this town came this little promotional booklet…

PERHAPS very few small places are so widely known in every country of the civilized world as this little town of Walkerville, named after Mr. Hiram Walker, who established here in 1858 the distillery to which the town owes its existence. From small beginnings the plant has steadily grown to large proportions, and its product, under the name of “Canadian Club” Whisky, is shipped to almost every part of the globe.

The rapidity with which “Canadian Club” has popularized itself has been remarkable. Until the year 1888 no attempt had been made to extend the business beyond the borders of Canada. At that time it was decided to cultivate an export trade, and in the fall of 1888 an office was opened in London. For the first few years progress was exceedingly slow, and the experiment looked very doubtful; but finally more rapid headway was made, until to-day it is admitted that no other single brand of liquor is so widely distributed.

This success must be attributed to the high quality of the whisky, for without merit no advertising, however extensive or persistent, can create a permanent demand for an article which, being of necessity a high-priced one, must depend upon the favour of connoisseurs. A high-class whisky cannot be a “cheap” whisky in the ordinary sense; and it is essentially an article of which the adage “the best is the cheapest” is true. “Whether used purely for beverage purposes or medicinally, a low-grade spirit is particularly to be avoided.

It may be interesting to mention briefly why a whisky of high quality cannot be sold at a low price. As is very generally understood, the injurious properties inherent to distilled liquors in a raw state are best eliminated by long storage in oak casks. This involves not only the locking up of capital for several years, with the attendant expense of interest, insurance, taxes, labour, etc., but there is the much more serious item of wastage, amounting in the case of “Canadian Club” to from 25 to 33 per cent. of the entire quantity manufactured; and as this loss is constantly going on it represents the original cost plus the above mentioned charges. The whisky exported is carried a minimum of seven years ; and, allowing for shrinkage and reserve held to provide against possible ‘loss by fire, the capital is turned over not oftener than once in nine years.

The storage warehouses (of which there are five, holding from 13,000 to 20,000 barrels each); are constructed with special reference to the best possible results. The casks are not piled one upon the other, but in racks, with abundant air spaces. The houses are perfectly ventilated and dry; and in the cold weather they are artificially warmed. It is safe to say that in no branch of trade is deception more prevalent than in that of liquors. By the aid of chemistry almost any flavour can be imitated; and, far worse, the deleterious properties of the raw product can be so smothered as to be beyond detection by the senses of ordinary people. Many markets are flooded with inferior spirits, often highly injurious to health, generally falsely labelled as to age and quality, and frequently claiming to be the product of the most reputable concerns- While Great Britain is, perhaps, thanks to stringent laws rigidly enforced, more free from this nefarious traffic than many other countries, even there the absolute guarantee of age and genuineness afforded by “Canadian Club” is well worthy of notice.

Every bottle is certified by the Excise Department of the Canadian Government, by a stamp over the capsule, affixed in the presence of an officer who is constantly in charge of the bottling department. From the moment of manufacture until this stamp is applied the whisky is never out of the custody of the Government officials.

Owing to its absolute purity, its delicate aroma and flavour, and its extreme mellowness, “Canadian Club” is in high favour with physicians as a prescription stimulant.

Mmmmm… Perscription Whiskey…. 🙂

The five shots above are all of the Main Office Building on Riverside Dr. It is now open for tours, and has changed very little in the 107 years since the photos above were taken. The building was built from 1892-1894. The architects were Mason & Rice. The main design work was done by a young apprentice by the name of Albert Kahn. Kahn had recently returned from a tour of Europe, and modeled the building after the Pandolfini Palace in Florence.

Tomorrow… Part II

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