Today is the 68th birthday of Gary Gillman, an attorney in Toronto, who also writes online at Beer et seq. He’s been a beer enthusiast for over forty years, and started participating online as soon as that became viable, focusing on history. In his daily life, he represents several breweries, as well as other food and beverage businesses, so brings a unique perspective to his writing. He’s also contributed articles to several beer magazines. Join me in wishing Gary a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthdays of both David Kuntz (June 4, 1819-July 11, 1892) and Louis Kuntz (June 4, 1852-October 8, 1891). David Kuntz was born in Wiesbaden, Hessen, Germany, but moved to Waterloo City in Ontario, Canada, opening the Spring Brewery in 1844, though it was later renamed the Louis Kuntz Park Brewery. His son, Ludwig “Louis” Kuntz was born in Waterloo, Ontario, and work with his father at the family brewery, though passed away a year before his father, and the business passed to David’s grandson, and Louis’ son, David C. Kuntz. Shortly after David C’ Kuntz’s passing, in 1930, Canadian Breweries Limited, which had originally been “named Brewing Corporation of Ontario,” was created “by merging The Brading Breweries Limited, an Ottawa company Taylor had inherited from his grandfather, Capital Brewing of Ottawa, and Kuntz Brewery of Waterloo, Ontario.” In 1977 Carling Brewery was purchased by Labatt Breweries of London, but the Waterloo plant was closed by 1993 and all the buildings on the site had been demolished.
David & his son Louis.
David Kuntz was a pioneer brewer who helped establish Waterloo as a centre for quality beer making by undertaking every aspect of the business himself. It is written that Kuntz, a cooper as well as a brewer from Germany, made the barrels himself, brewed the beer, and actually made the bricks for the brewery he eventually built. In the 1830s, Kuntz brewed his beer in an old wooden washtub during the day and made his way around the county at night, selling it from a wheelbarrow. He hid his cash from the beer sales in an empty keg to avoid being robbed. By the early 1840s, Kuntz had enough capital to purchase a brewery hotel from Christopher Huether. The building still stands at the corner of King and Princess Streets and is now known as the Huether Hotel and Lion Brewery.
The 1861 census shows that Kuntz, aged 41, used 3,000 bushels of barley and 1,000 bushels of hops that year at a value of $1,700. He produced 12,000 gallons of beer, valued at $2,400. The pioneer, who had emigrated from Wiesbaden, Germany, now had two male employees who were each paid a monthly salary of $36. He also had one female employee who was paid $11.50 a month. The enumerator, who recorded the census information, commented that Kuntz made “the best beer in the country as far as the judgment of the Enumerator extends. The Brewery, Cellars, and House are of first quality.”
On a personal note, the census shows he was married to Magdelina, twenty-eight, who was also from Germany. At that time, they had four children – Ludwig, Henry, Catherine and Charles between the ages of two and eight. The couple went on to have thirteen children.
The Kuntz family lived in a two-story brick house and had two “pleasure carriages,” along with four horses, twelve cows and twelve pigs. The value of the animals was $560. His new brewery prospered and was called Spring Brewery because it used water from a spring on the property. In the early 1870s, his son Louis took over, renaming it L. Kuntz’s Park Brewery. Louis Kuntz, who was married to Theresa Bauer, died at a young age in the early 1890s, forcing his brothers-in-law Frank and Aloyes Bauer, to take over operations. At the time of his death, his own three sons were still children. In 1910, Louis Kuntz’s sons were old enough to take over the brewery and David Jr. became president, incorporating the business and calling it Kuntz Brewery Ltd. His brothers William and Herbert were also involved in the business. David Kuntz Sr. had
died in 1897.
By the time of the First World War, the Kuntz Brewery was selling 90,000 barrels of beer every year and, in Ontario, was second in popularity only to Toronto’s O’Keefe brew. The Kuntz family also owned hotels including the Alexandra House in Waterloo, and the Opera House in Hamilton. After years of prohibition, the Kuntz family was dealt a fatal blow when the federal government won a tax suit valued at $200,000. By October, Toronto’s beer magnate E.P. Taylor took control of the million dollar plant for the price of simply paying the suit. In 1936, Carling Breweries Ltd. of London, Ontario joined Kuntz, calling the business Carling-Kuntz Brewery Ltd. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the name Kuntz was dropped for sounding “too German” along with the well-loved brews Culmbacher, Bohemian and Olde German Lager. In the mid-1970s it became Carling O’Keefe and a few years later the business was sold to Labatt Breweries of London.
The Labatt brewery in Waterloo was demolished in 1993, but the Kuntz beer that started out in an old washtub, will be remembered by some as “the beer that made Waterloo famous.”
This is from “Brewed in Canada: The Untold Story of Canada’s 350-year-old Brewing Industry,” by Allen Winn Sneath:
And this account, written in 2016, is by Rych Mills for the Waterloo Region Record:
No one alive can remember the taste of “Old German Lager” from Kuntz Spring Brewery (I don’t mean the 1988 re-brew by Labatt). Nonetheless, Kuntz fascination continues and its ephemera are fervently sought by brewerianists — collectors of brewery items.
In the 1830s, while still a teenager, David Kuntz came with older brother Jacob from the German Duchy of Nassau. After a few years working as coopers in Doon, they moved north to slightly larger Waterloo, which boasted maybe 200 inhabitants.
A much-quoted anecdote says David made the bricks that helped build his first brewery; made the barrels that contained the beer; and made the wheelbarrow that helped him deliver the beer.
David and Jacob’s initial brewing began around mid-century on Princess Street at the rear of Wilhelm Rebscher’s original Waterloo brewery (now the Huether Hotel site). They next built a small malting building near Erb and Queen (later renamed Regina) behind Bowman’s Hotel. Then, in the early 1860s, the brothers began constructing a full brewery at King and William streets. A fine flowing spring lured them to that corner and by 1865 the new brewery was in full production using hops and barley the brothers grew themselves. They named it Kuntz Spring Brewery. Jacob Kuntz soon expanded the Kuntz brewing empire; he moved to Carlsruhe, opened Lion Brewery and thus helped to begin Bruce County’s brewing industry.
David Kuntz seems the type of entrepreneur who is never fulfilled. In 1870, aged 50, he turned the business over to son Louis who renamed it L. Kuntz Park Brewery, using the decorative green space in front of the brewery as the company’s trademark. In the meantime, David briefly moved to Hamilton to set up son Henry’s Dominion Brewery.
Returning to Waterloo, David kept busy. He served on council during 1876 when the village became a town and erected a modern hotel, the Alexandra House, kitty-corner from the brewery.
Louis Kuntz died, aged 39, following an appendectomy in 1891. His children were still young so brother-in-law Frank Bauer, also a brewer, took over. Then David Kuntz died in 1892. Bauer’s own 1895 passing began an almost unbelievable sequence of deaths in the brewery’s management. However, business success continued and in 1910 David Kuntz Jr., Louis’ son, took over. He also died young, 38, in 1915 so his two brothers, Herbert and William stepped in.
The First World War, Prohibition and a huge 1929 lawsuit loss resulted in the Kuntz name starting to fade from the brewing business.
E.P. Taylor bought the struggling firm in 1929, wrapping it into his brewing empire. During the Depression, the name changed from Kuntz Breweries to Kuntz-Carling to Carling-Kuntz and finally, during the Second World War, to just Carling. The brewing site at King and William later operated under the O’Keefe and Labatt banners.
What remains of the Kuntz legacy?
For nostalgists, highly collectible Kuntz beer trays, bottles, bottle caps, labels, advertising, Kuntz 1920s soft drink bottles, etc. Two Waterloo houses built by David are historically designated: the 1880 Kuntz-Eckert House at 156 King St. S. and the 1885 Kuntz-Labatt House at 167. In southeast Waterloo, Kuntz sounds echo daily through the neighbourhood — one of the 1902 bells at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church is a bequest from David’s will and is named Magdalena for his wife.
A myth surrounding the Kuntz early years claims streets such as Caroline, William, Mary and John were named after David’s children. A nice idea but those names appear on a map published in 1855 before all but two of the Kuntz children were born. In addition, David and Magdalena did not have children named William, Mary or John.
However, from the couple’s dozen-plus children, a large clan of Kuntz family members still lives in Waterloo Region. The Kuntz name in business carries on with Kuntz Electroplating (KEI) started in 1948 by Oscar Kuntz, son of David Jr. and great-grandson of David.
Today is the birthday of Emil George Sick (June 3, 1894-November 10, 1964). Sick was the “son of Canadian brewer Fritz Sick, who built Sick’s Lethbridge Brewery.”
“He was a brewing worker and industrialist in Canada and later the US. He is well known for his involvement as owner of baseball teams and stadiums in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia from the 1930s until 1960.
He was chairman of the board of Sick’s Rainier Brewing Company and president of Sicks’ Brewery Enterprises, Inc., both of Seattle, and a director of three other firms, Molson’s Brewery, Ltd., and Sicks’ Breweries, Ltd., both of Canada, and the Peoples National Bank of Washington. He also was a director of the Seattle World’s Fair.”
Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:
Sportsman. Northwest baseball pioneer. Former owner of the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers. He constructed Sick’s Seattle Stadium which opened in June 1938 and served as home to the Seattle Rainiers, Seattle Angels and the 1969 major league Seattle Pilots. He rose to prominence in the brewing industry along with his father Fritz, operating breweries in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Great Falls, Spokane and the Rainier Brewery in Seattle. Active in civic affairs, he served as president of both the Seattle Historical Society and Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He was also instrumental in the founding of the King County Blood Bank and as chairman of the Washington State March of Dimes.
“In 1934 the Sicks made their most important transaction. It would transform Emil Sick into one of Seattle’s most significant citizens and impact the game of baseball in the state for decades. They acquired exclusive rights to sell the Rainier brand in Washington and Alaska from the Rainier Brewing Company of San Francisco.”
And this is his obituary from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on November 11, 1964, as posted on the Brewery Gems page about Emil.
Emil G. Sick, 70, long-time Seattle civic and business leader, died early yesterday morning in Swedish Hospital of a stroke following an operation. Mr. Sick had been in failing health recently but had continued to take an active part in his numerous and varied business interests in, the United States and Canada.
He was chairman of the board of Sick’s Rainier Brewing Co. and president of Sicks’ Brewery Enterprises, Inc., both of Seattle, and a director of three other firms, Molson’s Brewery, Ltd., and Sicks’ Breweries, Ltd., both of Canada, and the Peoples National Bank of Washington. He also was a director of the Seattle World’s Fair.
Mr. Sick was equally well known for his leadership in civic activities. He led two successful $100,000 fund raising drives. One played a leading role in saving St. Mark’s Cathedral. As chairman of the non – denominational committee, he saw $100,000 collected to wipe out the church’s debts and beautify the picturesque building.
As president of the Seattle Historical Society, Mr. Sick led the drive which collected $100,000 for construction of the Museum of History and Industry.
Mr. Sick was a long-time leader of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, serving as its president in 1941. Thirteen, years later he was elected an honorary life-time member.
Mr. Sick entered the brewery business as a shipping clerk with Lethbridge Breweries, Ltd., in Alberta, Canada, which was founded and owned by his father.
In the following years he headed numerous corporations which operated breweries in Spokane; Salem, Ore.; Missoula and Great Falls, Mont.; Vancouver, B.C.; Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alta., and Prince Albert and Regina, Sask. Some of these later were closed or sold.
In 1937, Mr. Sick purchased the Seattle Rainier baseball club and a year later built the stadium which bears his name. The club was sold in 1960. He also was past state chairman of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and was a founder of the King County Central Blood Bank.
In 1949, Mr. Sick became the first Washingtonian to be named for the Disabled American’s Veteran’s award for outstanding civic leadership. And he was named Greater Seattle’s First Citizen in Sports for 1963.
Mr. Sick was born June 3, 1894, in Tacoma. He attended Western Canada College, Calgary, and Stanford University. He resided at 260-39th Ave. E.
He married Kathleen Thelma McPhee in 1918. She died in 1962, and last December he married Mrs. Martha Gardner, widow of a Seattle business leader.
Survivors include his wife, Martha; sister, Mrs. J. A. Blair, Vancouver, B.C.; three daughters, Mrs. Chandler Thomas, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Mrs. Robert Minton, Concord, Mass.; and Mrs. Winston Ingman, Mercer Island; a son, Timothy Sick, London, England; an adopted son, Alan Ferguson, Seattle, and 16 grandchildren.”
Saturday’s ad is for Molson, from 1994. The ad shows a great cartoon of — what is that? — a Canadian Goose wearing shades and leaning up against a giant bottle of Molson on the beach. He also has a fairly large bottle on his hand. He actually looks more like a duck, but Canadian Goose makes more sense in context. Whatever bird, he certainly looks satisfied.
Today is the birthday of Thomas Carling (June 1, 1797-February 17, 1880). He was born in Yorkshire, England but emigrated to Canada, settling in London, Ontario, in 1818, where he founded what would become the Carling Brewery in 1840.
This biography is from Find-a-Grave:
Son of William and Margaret Carling of Etton. Wishing to find his fortune in a young country he sailed from Hull on May 17, 1818 for Canada. (Since there was not much opportunity for tenant farmers in England, many of the young farmer sons left to be successful elsewhere.)
The interesting journey was recorded by his son, Sir John Carling, and is included in the hard-bound book by George P. DeKay, available in the London Room at the London Public Library.
Thomas arrived at his new farm in London township in 1819 and began the long job of clearing the land of trees and building a log cabin. The location was lot 14, concession 8 however in 1824 he moved to a farm further south at lot 26, con. 6, nearer to his in-laws.
About 1839 he moved from the farm into the town of London (Pall Mall and Colborne streets location). It is said that he felt his three surviving sons would receive a better education there.
The origin of CARLING BREWERY is Thomas Carling and London, Ontario. Since he had move time after moving to a town setting, Thomas began brewing beer likely similar to the recipes of home-brewed English beer. The beer was a popular refreshment for the British soldiers who were stationed nearby at the British garrison. It was not long before sons William and John persuaded their father to turn the business over to their management and control. The company was named “W. & J. Carling Ltd.” In 1882 the “Carling Brewing and Malting Co. of London Ltd.” was formed with John as its president. Later the business expanded throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and beyond. The business remained in the family for about 100 years.
Thomas married Margaret Routledge on Oct. 6, 1820. The two had to be married by a Justice of the Peace because in 1820 there was no Church of England minister in the area. This marriage was the first in the newly formed township for a non-native couple. In order to legalize a marriage, it was necessary to post, in three locations, a document signed by the JP in question, the three places being a mill door, a distillery door and on a large tree at a public crossroads.
The history of Carling dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling, a farmer from the English county of Yorkshire, and his family settled in Upper Canada, at what is now the city of London, Ontario. He brewed an ale which became popular, and eventually took up brewing full-time. The first Carling brewery had two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs, and Carling sold his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.
In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp. In 1878 his sons, John and William, built a six-story brewery in London, which was destroyed by fire a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.
William and John took over the company, naming it the W & J Carling Brewing Co. John Carling died in 1911 and the company changed hands numerous times since. It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O’Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.
This plaque for Carling is in Yorkshire, England, dedicated in 2000:
This short brewery history is from the Carling website:
Carling’s British roots trace all the way back to the Yorkshire village of Etton, little known, but forever in the hearts of Carling as the birthplace of our namesakes, William Carling and his son Thomas. Inheriting his father’s passion and skill for brewing, a 21-year-old Thomas emigrated to Canada taking his father’s Yorkshire beer recipe, which on arrival in Canada he used to brew privately for admiring family and friends. The township Thomas settled in soon became an Imperial Army post where the thirsty soldiers became fans of the Carling family’s Yorkshire brew. In 1843 he built his first commercial brewery, only for his sons William and John to take up the baton soon after, and begin producing lager for the first time in 1869, sewing the first seeds of Carling’s refreshingly perfect pint.
And this is a portion of a history written by Cecil Munsey in 2003, entitled “Carling Black Label Beer in the White Bottle:”
Today would have been Bert Grant’s 90th birthday, and he is still definitely missed. Bert opened the country’s first brewpub in 1982 in Yakima, Washington and was a fixture in the industry until his death in late July of 2001. Join me tonight in lifting a pint to Bert’s memory.
Bert Grant and me at OBF in the mid-1990s.
Here’s his obituary from Real Beer:
Craft brewing pioneer Bert Grant, who founded the first modern day brewpub in the United States, is dead at 73.
Grant had been ill for two years and died Tuesday at the University of British Columbia Hospital in Vancouver. He had moved to that city a year ago to be close to his children.
When Grant founded his brewpub in Yakima, Wash., in 1982 there were fewer than 50 individual brewing operations in the U.S. Today there are more than 1,500. That brewpub expanded to become a bottling microbrewery, selling about 10,000 barrels of Bert Grant’s Ales in 2001. He sold the brewery to Chateau Ste. Michelle wines in 1995, but Grant remained an active spokesman until being slowed by illness.
He’d sometimes wear a kilt at his pub in Yakima and occasionally dance on the bar. He kept a claymore — a double-bladed broadsword — just in case he had to enforce his ban on smoking.
He was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1928. He moved to Toronto, where he grew up and got his first job in a brewery … at 16, he became a beer taster. He remained in the beer business all his life. He moved to Yakima in 1967, where he helped build and operate two plants that processed hops. His patented processing of hops is still in use today.
Bert Grant Bert was one of a kind,” said Paul Shipman, who founded Red Hook Brewery around the time Grant began Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. “He was a scientist, a brewer, and I don’t think he even graduated high school.”
He remained dedicated to assertive beer and carried a vial of hop oil in his pocket to boost the flavor of a bland domestic beer. His first priority was to brew beer he liked. “It may not be your favorite beer,” Grant’s son Peter said. “But it was his.”
Today is my good friend and colleague Stephen Beaumont’s 54th birthday. And not only a friend, but a neighbour, partner and ally, too (inside joke). In addition to his Blogging at World of Beer online, Stephen’s written numerous books, including the recent World Atlas of Beer (along with Tim Webb) and the Pocket Beer Book, now in its second edition. Join me in wishing Stephen a very happy birthday.
With Luke Nicolas from New Zealand’s Epic Brewing in D.C. for CBC a few years ago.
Today is beer blogger extraordinaire Alan McLeod’s 55th birthday. Alan runs a good beer blog, called — curiously enough — A Better Beer Blog, which replaced his earlier “A Good Beer Blog.” I’m not sure what came first, the goodness or the blog. Anyway, though I’ve yet to meet Alan in person I feel as if he’s already a great, not just good, friend through our many conversations via e-mail and commenting on one another’s blogs. If you haven’t read his essay in the book Beer & Philosophy yet, rush right out and buy yourself a copy. He also published The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, with Max Bahnson, available as a Kindle single on Amazon, and last year co-wrote both Upper Hudson Valley Beer and Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay. Join me in wishing Alan the very merriest of birthdays. Cheers, mate.
Today is the birthday of William H. “Billy” Biner (April 16, 1889-January 5, 1953). Biner was a journeyman brewer who worked for numerous breweries over his long career. He was born in the Montana territory to Swiss immigrant parents. His father, Theophil Biner, knew Leopold Schmidt and even worked at his Olympia Brewery. Biner sent two of his sons, including Billy once he’s finished with a career as a boxer, to brewing school in Milwaukee. Biner’s first brewing job was at the Phoenix Brewery in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912. He then worked as the brewmaster for at least eight more breweries, from Los Angeles to Canada. The breweries he worked at included the Mexicali Brewery; the Orange Crush Bottling Company in L.A.; the Mexicali Brewing Company again after it was rebuilt following an earthquake; then the Kootenay Breweries, Ltd. in both Nelson and Trail, in BC, Canada; followed by the Ellensburg Brewing Co. in Washington, and then in 1937 he founded his own brewery, the Mutual Brewing Company. But it didn’t last thanks to World War II and supply issues, and it folded. Afterward, he moved on to both Sicks’ Century Brewery in Seattle and the Silver Springs Brewery in Port Orchard, Washington. Finally, he ran the East Idaho Brewing Co. in Pocatello, Idaho until 1946, when he retired from brewing and bought his own bar, the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon. He stayed there until a year before he died, which was in 1953.
Here’s his biography from Brewery Gems, written by Gary Flynn working with Joseph Fulton, the grandson of William Biner:
William Henry “Billy” Biner was born in Boulder, Montana Territory, on April 16, 1889. He was the fifth of nine children for Theophil Biner and Juliana Truffer, immigrants from Randa, Switzerland.
Theophil Biner was a builder and an acquaintance of Leopold Schmidt, founder of Olympia Brewery. He worked briefly for Schmidt in Tumwater, Washington from 1903-1905. Later in 1905 he purchased the Phoenix Brewery in the copper boomtown of Phoenix, British Columbia. Theophil became president of the company and his sons Albert and Dan ran it.
Younger son Billy became a boxer, eventually earning the title of welterweight champion of British Columbia. In 1911 Theo Biner sent his sons Billy and Gustave to the Hantke Brewery School in Milwaukie, Wisconsin where they graduated in 1912. Billy then became the brewmaster for the Phoenix Brewery and as an aspiring artist he also designed all of the beer labels. During this time he gave up boxing for curling where he found similar success.
Billy Biner married Harriet Lynch, the daughter of diamond drilling supervisor Dan Lynch in 1914. As prohibition approached Billy wrote articles for the local paper espousing the benefits of beer. But business declined in Phoenix and he moved south to Los Angeles in 1919 to work for the Canadian Club Bottling-Orange Crush Bottling Co.
From 1924 through 1929 he served as the brewmaster for the Mexicali Brewing Company in Mexicali, Mexico. In 1929 he returned to Canada and was a brewer in the towns of Merritt and Princeton, BC. From 1929 through 1936 he served as brewmaster for the Kootenay Brewing Company in both Nelson and Trail, BC.
In 1936 Biner moved to Ellensburg, Washington where he became brewmaster at the Ellensburg Brewery through 1942. After the Ellensburg Brewery closed Biner worked as a brewer at both Sick’s Select Brewery in Seattle and Silver Spring’s Brewery in Port Orchard, WA before moving on to Pocatello, where he ran the Aero Club Brewery until 1946.
He purchased the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon in 1946 and operated it until 1952 when he moved to Los Angeles to work for the North American Aircraft Company. He died of a heart attack on January 5, 1953.
Billy and Harriet Biner had four children; Betty, Bill, Bob and Fredericka (Fritzi). Bill and Bob Biner both worked for their father in Ellensburg before becoming members of the US Air Corps during WW II. Together they flew over 100 missions and are the subjects of the book The Brewmaster’s Bombardier and Belly Gunner.
Although none of Billy’s children or grandchildren became professional brewers, his great-grandson, Charlton Fulton, is the brewer at McMenamins Mill Creek Brewery near Seattle, Washington.
Biner with his sisters Julia and Mary Cecelia and his children Betty and Billy, c. 1925.
A label from his first brewery job, which he may also have designed.
William Dow in 1860.
Here’s a short biography from his Wikipedia page:
Born at Muthill, Perthshire, he was the eldest son of Dr William Dow (1765-1844), Brewmaster, and Anne Mason. Since 1652, his family had been brewing in Perthshire. Having gained an extensive experience in brewing under his father, he emigrated to Montreal from Scotland in about 1818. He was employed as foreman of Thomas Dunn’s brewery in Montreal and quickly became a partner. His younger brother, Andrew, who had also trained as a brewer, joined him, and on the death of Dunn, the company became known as William Dow and Company, later known as Dow Breweries. It soon was a strong competitor to Molson’s, the biggest brewery in the city. Dow was also a financier and in 1860 he built his home, Strathearn House, in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile.
Dow in 1868.
And here’s a longer biography from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:
The son of a brewmaster, William Dow emigrated to Canada in 1818 or 1819 with substantial experience in brewing. He was employed as foreman at Thomas Dunn’s brewery, one of the few in Montreal at that time; by November 1829 Dow was a partner and was joined by his younger brother, Andrew, who had also trained as a brewer. Known as William Dow and Company after 1834, the year of Dunn’s death, the firm prospered and became one of the principal competitors in Montreal to Molson’s, the largest brewery in the city. Like some of his competitors William Dow was also engaged in distilling and in this business too he was a major local supplier. By 1863 his plant was producing some 700,000 gallons of beer in comparison to the Molson’s 142,000 gallons. As his business grew, Dow took in other partners besides his brother (who died in 1853). During the early 1860s he was joined by a group of associates, headed by Gilbert Scott, to whom he eventually sold the business for £77,877 in 1864; it kept his name.
By that time Dow was already a wealthy man with a number of highly remunerative investments in other enterprises besides brewing and distilling. Through the 1840s he put considerable sums into Montreal real estate: in one transaction in 1844 he paid £5,580, mostly in cash, for four pieces of property. Investing also in railways and banks, Dow became important in this expanding sector of Montreal’s economic life. He was a director of the Montreal and New York Railroad Company (which had a line between Montreal and Plattsburg, N.Y.) from 1847 to 1852 and invested nearly £10,000 in its shares, an unusually large sum for anyone to put into a single joint stock company in that era. Dow was one of the Montreal promoters who merged this railway with its major competitor, the Champlain and St Lawrence, in 1855, after a vicious rate war threatened to bankrupt both companies. He also had a small investment in the St Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad and served briefly on its board of directors (1852–53). A shareholder in the City Bank, he was also a director of the Bank of British North America and the Montreal Provident and Savings Bank. Although a determined rival of the Molsons in the beer and whisky business, he was their associate in 1854 in the formation of still another Montreal bank, Molsons Bank [see William Molson*], which was later incorporated into the Bank of Montreal. Compartmentalization of their lives, especially in business, was characteristic of most Montreal businessmen and, indeed, was probably essential for success in this era of constantly expanding frontiers of enterprise.
Dow was a director of the Montreal Insurance Company between 1839 and 1852 and a member of the group which formed the Sun Life Insurance Company in 1865. His many other local corporate ventures included the abortive company organized in 1849 by John Young* to build a canal between the St Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, the Montreal Steam Elevating and Warehousing Company founded in 1857, the City Passenger Railway Company in 1861, and the Montreal Stock Exchange in 1852. Though not himself a shipowner, he invested in shipping companies and was one of the pioneer investors in the Atlantic Telegraph Company. In 1854 he and Hugh* and Andrew Allan*, William Edmonstone, and Robert Anderson of Montreal formed the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company with a capital of £500,000 to provide regular steamer connections between Great Britain and Canada.
Although a bachelor, Dow lived in baronial style in an immense, richly decorated stone mansion named Strathearn House at the top of Beaver Hall Hill in Montreal and also nearby in the country on his estate at Côte Saint-Paul. At his death, on 7 Dec. 1868, the house and the bulk of his estate, estimated to be in excess of (300,000, were left to his brother’s widow and her four daughters.