Beer ads from the Vancouver Daily Province, December 20, 1940. First, an ad for Coast Breweries of New Westminster, followed by an ad for Vancouver Breweries Ltd.
Note how similar the branding appear in these competing ads; Lucky Lager is the one beer that looks unlike all the rest with it’s distinctive cross label, and ironically, it’s the one brand that appears to have fared the best. Burton Ale and Old Country Ale could go head to head, while Britannia Beer and Pilsener Lager Beer would also be fairly matched. The brand UBC Bohemian seems an odd curiosity today, and 4x Cream Stout was over 10% alcohol!
Rainier Beer is a personal favourite of mine, and typographically, it competes well with Cascade. I’ve included a full colour Rainier Beer label here, brewed at the Westminster Brewery Ltd. in New Westminster, BC. It’s true Rainier was originally an American brand, but it was purchased by the Sick’s beer empire in 1935 after American prohibition, as described on the Rainier wikipedia page. It has changed hands a number of times since then, and brewing finally came to an end in 2003. The Rainier brand has since been revived and is now brewed under license, albeit south of the border.
I was contemplating why nearly all these brands have disappeared; I’m sure the consolidation of breweries and post-war advertising were factors, but I guess tastes also change. And it’s probably easier to introduce a new brand than it is to update an older one. The fact that Lucky Lager continues to be produced here in Canada is a small miracle, although I think it wouldn’t be out of the question for more of these lost brands to make a resurgence.
If you’d like to OD on some more vintage beer labels, check out this acquisition of 3,000 beer labels at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto. Oh, and be sure to sing along to this Labatt beer-drinking songbook from the 1930s!
Happy Christmas everyone, and once again, please drink responsibly!
A label for the BC Cigar Factory, New Westminster, BC, currently for sale on ebay from the seller thekennelclub for $300. Pretty expensive, but likely very rare. Last year I discovered this Polish Beer Doctor selling off his entire collection of Canadian Beer labels on ebay; the hoard of artwork from this cigar label seller is almost as exciting!
This particular label appears to illustrate the Fraser River looking south to Surrey, with Mt. Baker in the background. Clearly before the era of the Pattullo, is that the New Westminster Rail and Road bridge in the picture? Maybe. The graphic design of the label seems a bit clumsy. Who was the artist, and why is there a globe floating up the Fraser River? We may never know! Let’s see how much we can learn in one day.
I looked up the BC Cigar Factory in Google Books and found a few interesting sources. First, I believe The Railroad trainman: Volume 23 from 1906 mentions the company. President Herman Knudsen of the BC Cigar Factory is noted in the 1915 Annual Report on Labour Organization in Canada. The 1916 and 1917 Cigar Makers’ Official Journal also lists H. Knudsen as a contact. And Knudsen is mentioned again in the 1917 Canadian Patent Office record: Volume 45, Part 1.
From genealogy.com and ancestry.ca, we learn that Herman Severn Knudsen was born in Stavenger, Norway in 1875. In the 1898 B.C. census, Herman Knudsen lived in New Westminster, B.C. and was listed as a cigar maker on 9th Street. He married Mary Douglas (b. Edinburgh, Scotland in 1877) on June 24, 1899 in New Westminster. Clara Thelma Knudsen was born just 4 months later on October 14, 1899. Clara had at least one other sibling; Thelma Evelyn Knudson was born about 1906 in Kamloops.
The 1923 British Columbia Parliament Sessional papers: Volume 2 lists two New West cigar company addresses:
- BC Cigar Factory, Seventh Avenue and Cunningham Street, New Westminster
(if they meant today’s 7th STREET, this is right across from Douglas College and St. Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church, built 1899)
- Beaver Cigar Factory, 717 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster
(this was pretty much across the street from the old court house, a good location for a cigar factory! Here’s a photo I took recently.)
Finally, this document also lists the Licence Codes for Canadian Cigar Manufacturers: 1883-1962, and below are all the companies explicitly listed with a New Westminster connection. The dates represent their licence code year and not necessarily their year(s) of operation:
- W. Tietjen, New Westminster (1884-98)
- Harling & Laska, New Westminster (1887-88)
- J. Harling, New Westminster (1889-92)
- Molina & Wilberg, New Westminster (1899)
- B. Wilberg & Co., New Westminster (1900-20)
- P.F. Larsen, New Westminster (1904)
- C.A. Stein, New Westminster (1915-16)
- F.J. Lynch, New Westminster (1904-20)
- D. Schnoter, New Westminster (1910-20)
- Feeney & Henry, New Westminster (1909)
- B.C. Cigar Factory (1924)
- A.G. Miller (1924-40)
- Dan Schnoter (1921-46)
- Solo Cigar Factory (1947-49)
If anyone wishes to study the cigar history of New West any further, I commend you to go to it!