Today is the birthday of John James Dunn Oland (July 14, 1819-October 28, 1870). He most likely not be remembered had it not been for his talented wife, Susannah Woodhouse Culverwell Oland, who was a brewer and responsible for the October Ale that launched what would become Moosehead Breweries. John was born in Somerset England and married Susannah in Bristol, in 1842. Oland tried a variety of jobs, all of them unsuccessful, and even filed bankruptcy in 1844. Hoping to turn his fortune, he emigrated to Canada in 1862, and his wife and family followed in 1865. The family settled in Nova Scotia, and in 1867 Susannah’s October Ale won her enough renown that friends encouraged her to make it on a commercial scale.
So they opened the Turtle Grove Brewery, named for the area where it was situated in Halifax Harbour. Because of the prevailing gender inequality of the era, the business was incorporated with John as the manager, but despite having no official ownership, Susannah oversaw all aspects of running the business. Three years later, John died in a riding accident, although the death certificate lists “liver complaint” as the cause of death.
After his death, Susannah lost control of the brewery, which was renamed the Army & Navy Brewery, but continued to work there. After eight years, she bought the brewery and renamed it S. Oland, Sons and Company, and trained her sons to take over, but she continued to work at the brewery until her death in 1885. The brewery is still owned by the Oland family. You can read the rest of the brewery’s story at the Canadian Encyclopedia.