Manitoba Business: Blackwood Brothers / Blackwoods Limited

In the spring of 1881, three brothers William Blackwood, Andrew Thomas Richard Blackwood, and Donald McIntosh Blackwood (c1846-1904) moved from Montreal to Winnipeg and established a brewery and factory under the name of Blackwood Brothers at the corner of Graham Avenue at Colony Street. The facility, reportedly located atop an artesian well, produced carbonated water, soda, ciders, syrups, vinegars, and an array of alcohol-based beverages.

The Blackwood brothers expanded their operations around 1892 to include facilities at Rat Portage [now Kenora], Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. They also diversified to include marketing of frozen fish purchased from commercial fishers at several sites around Lake Manitoba.

On 4 April 1900, The Blackwoods Limited was incorporated via Letters Patent under the Manitoba Joint Stock Companies Act. Its founding partners were manufacturers William Blackwood and Andrew Thomas Richard Blackwood, accountants Nathaniel William Bradstock and Arthur Ward Thomas, and compounder [chemist] Hemming Hagbert Hanson. The company held a capital stock of $200,000 and, upon purchasing the Blackwood Brothers business, carried on with its existing activities.

In the spring of 1903, while on business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Blackwood brothers and Bradstock began planning to launch a new company, the Milwaukee Brewing and Malting Company (MBMC). This venture was to purchase operations and assets of their existing firm, The Blackwoods Limited. The plans were finalized and the company was federally incorporated via Letters Patent under The Companies Act of the Dominion of Canada on 3 June 1903. The new company held a capital stock of $480,000. The stakeholders and directors of the new corporate entity were the same as The Blackwoods Limited. The agreement between Blackwoods and MBMC was signed on 15 June 1903 but, on 4 February 1904, MBMC was officially renamed the Manitoba Brewing and Malting Company Limited.

MBMC commissioned construction of a state-of-the-art brewery in Fort Rouge, at the junction of Mulvey Avenue East and Osborne Street, that was completed in 1904. Although owned by MBMC, the facility was known publicly by the Blackwoods name. It was later expanded to include a Soda Factory and Pickle Factory.

At its peak, annual output of the Fort Rouge plant totalled $600,000. However, a loss of labour during the First World War, combined with the growing temperance movement of the early 20th century, lead to a marked decline in business. By 1919, the company was ordered into liquidation by the Court of Kings Bench under the Winding Up Act. That process was initiated in February 1920 and concluded in May 1924.

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: William Blackwood (1849-1935)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Blackwood Soda Factory Building (421 Mulvey Avenue East, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Blackwood Pickle Factory Building (415 Mulvey Avenue East, Winnipeg)


Death registrations [Donald M. Blackwood], British Columbia Vital Statistics.

“Caution! [Blackwood Bros ad],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 13 May 1892, page 8.

“Drink,” The Christmas Free Press [Manitoba], 23 December 1893, page 8.

“Enterprising progressive,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 7 September 1895, page 6.

“Buildings and Real Estate [A new office building],” Manitoba Free Press, 16 May 1903, page 6.

“Want Logan car track extended,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 June 1903, page 6.

“Will have new brewery here,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 July 1903, page 16.

“City engineer to get more money,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 July 1903, page 6.

“Fort Rouge improvements,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 August 1903, page 11.

“Implement trade extends,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 September 1903, page 9.

“Local notes [The Manitoba Iron Works Ltd.],” Manitoba Free Press, 4 December 1903, page 16.

“Local notes [It is not too cold ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 8 February 1904, page 10.

“Local notes [The new brewery ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 23 February 1904, page 10.

“City and general [Messrs Berry, Pull, & Bond],” Manitoba Free Press, 14 March 1904, page 16.

“Local notes,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 April 1904, page 10.

“Motor boats for Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 July 1904, page 2.

“The Cement Building Block Company Ltd,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 July 1904, page 10.

“To dairymen,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 August 1904, page 2.

“City and general,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 October 1904, page 16.

“Fort Rouge brewery,” Manitoba Free Press, 26 November 1904, page 22.

“What shall we drink at Xmas,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 December 1904, page 20.

“Many firms will exhibit,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 June 1905, page 2.

“Want Santa Claus saw from the Free Press roof,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 December 1905, page 37.

“Considered many applications [Brewers' Licenses],” Manitoba Free Press, 17 May 1906, page 10.

“Many licenses are granted,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 May 1906, page 12.

“Malt liquor and beverages,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 July 1907, page 33.

“Subway matters are complicated,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 November 1909, page 6.

“Pembina Street values debated,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 January 1910, page 3.

“Big fire damages blackwood plant,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1910, page 1.

“Bottling plant destroyed by fire,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 May 1910, page 10.

“Award is made,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 July 1910, page 18.

“Strong language used in complaint against C.N.R.,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 September 1910, page 2.

“Blackwood case in Supreme Court,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 December 1910, page 15.

“$160,000 permit,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 August 1912, page 14.

“Permits for large plant and houses,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 September 1912, page 14.

“Large warehouse in yesterday's permits,” Manitoba Free Press, 26 September 1912, page 16.

“Fire department has a busy year,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 January 1913, page 20.

“Hudson's Bay Company will build Portage Avenue store,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 April 1913, page 11.

“Tenders for brick, etc.” Manitoba Free Press, 16 February 1914, page 2.

“Home brewing buys Blackwood property,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 March 1924, page 15.

Court of King’s Bench Winding Up Act pockets (ATG 0015), 165/19 - The Blackwoods Limited, GR0195, Archives of Manitoba.

Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 49 - The Blackwoods Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.

Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 49B - The Blackwoods Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.

Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 143M - The Manitoba Brewing and Malting Company Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.

409 Mulvey Avenue East, Former Pelissier's (Blackwood's) Brewery by Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, 2002.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Henderson Directories Limited, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 27 October 2022