Beer in Vancouver

Vancouver Craft Beer Week is here. Let’s take a look at some of the breweries, brands and beer drinkers represented in the Archives.

Early in the city’s history, breweries were established in several locations, usually taking advantage of the numerous creeks running throughout. Some breweries, such as Stanley Park, Red Cross and Royal breweries, were located near Burrard Inlet. [1]

The Columbia Brewery at Cedar Cove, at the north side of Powell Street at Wall Street and Victoria Drive., ca. 1892. Photographer William Stark. Reference code AM54-S4-: Bu P127

Others, such as Doering and Marstrand Brewery, Lion Brewing Company, and Lansdowne Brewery, were along Brewery Creek in Mount Pleasant.[2]

Employees of Doering and Marstrand Brewery in Mount Pleasant enjoying their product in the brewery yard, ca. 1890. The caption “Wohlsein” is a toast to good health. Reference code AM54-S4-: Dist P18

In 1902, the Cedar Cottage Brewery opened on the site of what is now King Edward Village.

Cedar Cottage Brewery, Southeast corner Kingsway and Knight Streets. Note the woodpile beside the building. The water tower in the fir tree was filled by hand-pumping water from the creek. Reference code AM54-S4-: Dist P69

After about a year, the Cedar Cottage brewing operations moved to the Stanley Park Brewery at the foot of Georgia Street and the proprietor used the old brewery as his residence. [3]

Cedar Cottage Brewery building as a private residence, ca. 1920. Photographer William Stark. Reference Code AM54-S4-: Dist P68

The Stanley Park Brewery also sold beer by the glass and was conveniently located near the thirsty teams that played sports at Brockton Point.[3]

One very popular brand of local beer was called Cascade. Major Matthews recorded that the name was found by the Red Cross Brewery through a contest with a $50 prize.[4] The Doering and Marstrand Brewery changed its name to Vancouver Breweries Limited when Marstrand left in 1909.  Soon after, the Red Cross Brewery and several other smaller breweries merged into Vancouver Breweries. Cascade beer became the Vancouver Breweries’ flagship product.

Illuminated sign advertising Cascade Beer, located on top of the Regent Hotel on East Hastings Street, ~1910-19. Detail from Reference code AM54-S4-: LGN 999

The present-day Cascade Room is near the site of the old Vancouver Brewery and is named for this beer. The building, which started as the Doering and Marstrand Brewery, still exists as a live/work studio.

Vancouver Brewery interior, ~1926. Photographer Stuart Thomson. Detail from  Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-3071

Beer trucks being loaded

Vancouver Brewery Trucks, 1923. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-1404

Even though the brewery had conventional trucks, they also had a horse-drawn cart.

Vancouver Breweries horse-drawn delivery wagon, December 1942. Photographer Jack Lindsay. Reference code AM1184-S3-: CVA 1184-1531

As a result of the amalgamation, Vancouver Breweries operated the former Canadian Brewing and Malting brewery, which had been built at 11th and Yew Street in 1912. At the time, the neighbourhood was wooded and marshy and its creek was above ground. Vancouver Breweries was  sold to Carling Breweries in the late 1950s. The building was later sold to Molson’s, and today the site has been redeveloped as Arbutus Walk.

Sample bottles of Vancouver Breweries Limited products, including a cream stout, ~1932. Note that UBC Bohemian was a product of the Union Brewing Company. Photographer Stuart Thomson. Detail from Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-2683.2

Capilano Brewing Company was owned by Sick’s, which had many breweries in the U.S. and Canada. The first Capilano brewery opened in 1934 at 1400 Powell near Woodland, in an old vinegar plant. When the business outgrew that brewery, a new one was built on 1550 Burrard Street. Sick’s operated that brewery by itself from 1953 until 1958 when the brewery was purchased by Molson’s.

Beginning with Gassy Jack’s Globe Saloon in the 1870s, beer was enjoyed in many establishments across the city, and at festivals.

Hotel Europe Beer Parlour, 43 Powell Street, 1931. Photographer Stuart Thomson. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-3894

Abbottsford Hotel Beer Parlour, 921 West Pender Street, April 11, 1933. Photographer Stuart Thomson. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-4328

Kinsman Carnival beer parlour, June 30, 1944. Photographer Don Coltman. Reference code AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-2866

Some enjoyed Jack O’ Hearts beer, distributed by the Gold Seal wine and liquor Merchants.

Jack O’ Hearts, one of the brands carried by Western Canada Liquor. Ca. 1912. Stuart Thomson, photographer

If you like beer, we hope you enjoy Vancouver Craft Beer Week.


[1] Hagelund, William A, House of Suds, Hancock House, 2003.
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[2] Luxton, Donald, Mount Pleasant Historical Themes, May 2008. http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/cpp/mountpleasant/heritage/pdf/historicalthemes.pdf
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[3] Fonds AM54 Major Matthews collection, File Stanley Park Brewery.
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[4] Fonds AM54 Major Matthews collection, File Red Cross Brewery.
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10 responses to “Beer in Vancouver

  1. Having worked in the brewing industry in Vancouver for almost 40 years, I am always interested in the history of brewing in the Vancouver area. I now reside in Winnipeg.

  2. Heather Gordon

    Glad you found our post interesting. We’d welcome records from the Vancouver brewing industry if you or any of your colleagues have any you’d consider donating.

  3. William T Davies

    Hi

    I live in Wales, and as a local historian I am presently writing about local inns and taverns in aid of a community hospital funds. I have the 1923 photograph of the brewery trucks at the Vancouver Brewery and wonder if you could please tell me if the Hancock Brewery (UK) has any connection, perhaps via a merger? I wonder if you would you allow me to use this photograph in my book?
    Thank you,
    William T

  4. Heather Gordon

    We’ve forwarded your request to our reference archivist for further details and he’ll be in touch with you. The photograph is in the public domain, so please feel free to use it as you wish.

  5. Two of my ancesters worked for the Vancouver Breweries all their working lives, I love the photos of the early years when my ancesters were working there and to see what it was like for them

  6. Heather Gordon

    We’re glad you’re enjoying the photos. It’s always gratifying to hear of family connections to our holdings.

  7. Liz Richens

    I have in my possession a bottle of Old Country Ale, with the beer still inside. Vancouver Brewries. Mid 1900’s? Dunno for sure. Any idea what it’s worth?

  8. Heather Gordon

    One of our monetary appraisal colleagues tells us there likely isn’t much value in the item. If it was produced by Vancouver Breweries (not Carling) it has a bit of collector value if the label is in perfect condition, but not a lot. We can give you a contact name for further information if you email heather.gordon@vancouver.ca

  9. Daniel Wise

    I am currently taking apart a house today to be demolished and found a bottle of the Vancouver Breweries Pilsener Lager, 1936 was the date on it. Unfortunately no beer was still inside haha. However it was pretty cool to look back in history like that.

  10. John Henderson

    Picked up a U.B.C. longneck beer — unopened.. at a flea market over the weekend.
    As a student at UBC in the 1960’s I remember on occasion drinking “U.B.C.” beer.. along with (who’da thought, eh?) many other brewskie brands!!
    I seem to remember U.B.C. in stubbies as well as longneck bottles.
    It’s a nice addition to my (old) “Man Cave”!! ((lol))

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