Points of Interest >The Don Brewery

Recently converted into loft apartments, this brewery was constructed on River Street north of Queen in 1834. Toronto businessman Thomas Davies purchased the company in 1849; he was later joined in the business by his son, Alderman Thomas Davies Jr.  J. Timberlake describes the brewery operations in 1878: thousands of dozens of prime ales and porters are ranged on shelves in a large room, and thousands of gallons in casks on racks, ready for bottling. Here the interesting process of washing the bottles by machinery, rinsing and draining them, then bottling the ale, corking and tinfoiling, &c., is carried on with wonderful rapidity. The corking machine is of English make specially imported for the firm, and excited the admiration of all beholders by its perfect working. Their malting department is also very extensive, two large kilns being kept constantly going night and day drying the malted barley. Hops form a very heavy item of expense in such breweries as Messrs. Davies, who largely use English and Bavarian hops (270).

Don Brewery
Don Brewery: T. Davies and Bro., Maltsters Brewers and Bottlers, 1877. Original chromolithograph from J. Timperlake, Illustrated Toronto Past and Present; being an historical and descriptive guide-book…. (Toronto: P.A. Gross, 1877). City of Toronto Archives, Series 496, Sub Series 4, File 3.

Two other Davies brothers joined the firm after Thomas Sr.’s death in 1869: Robert in 1871, and Joseph in 1873. In 1877, Robert left the business to found the Dominion Brewery on Queen Street East near Sumach. Occupying an impressive Victorian building on nearby Queen Street, the Dominion brewery became known “as the most extensive exhibitor of Canadian ales and porters in foreign countries”; it operated until 1936.

Davies Brewing & Malting Co. was sold to a British syndicate in 1890; the brewery closed in 1901. Parts of the building were leased to Toronto Liquid Carbonate Company. A new company, Davies Brewing, opened briefly in 1906 before closing after a disastrous fire in April 1907. The company never succeeded in reopening the brewery, and dissolved in late 1910.

Text: Jennifer Bonnell and Lost Rivers


Canadian Brewerianist Competition brochure. 1982. City of Toronto Archives. Series 496, Subseries 4, File 3.

Rust-D'Eye, George H. Cabbagetown Remembered. Erin, Ontario: The Boston Mills Press, 1984.

Timperlake, J., comp. Illustrated Toronto Past and Present; being an historical and descriptive guide-book….  Toronto: P.A. Gross, 1877. http://books.google.ca/books?id=L6QAAAAAMAAJ, accessed 4 May 2009.

Jennifer Bonnell & Marcel Fortin, 2009. A member project of NiCHE in partnership
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