Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 142,975 pages of information and 229,027 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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1818 Thomas Carling, a farmer from Yorkshire, took his family to eastern Canada, settling at what is now the city of London, Ontario.

During his first year there Carling cleared a small area of land. He called on his neighbours, Richard Walden, to help at a "stumping bee", a cooperative effort in which each man brought his own oxen and tools and the land was cleared of tree stumps. All the neighbours asked in return was food and refreshment. Thomas Carling's refreshment, a home-brewed ale, was of such quality that soon he was brewing it for other stumping bees. It grew so popular that he abandoned farming for full-time brewing.

The first Carling brewery was a modest affair – two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs. Carling was his own sales and shipping department. He started by selling his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.

In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, Ontario, Canada, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp.

By 1878, when his sons, John and William, built a new six-storey brewery in London, Carling was a household name in Canada. The new brewery was destroyed by a fire just a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.

His sons William-Beck and Johns-Isaac took over the company, naming it the W. and J. Carling Brewing Co.

John Carling died in 1911 and the company has changed hands numerous times since.

It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually re-named Carling O'Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.

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