Established on the eastern bank of Twelve Mile Creek in 1834, along the route the old Welland Canal, Taylor & Bate Brewery quenched the thirst of the people of St. Catharines, and beyond, for over 100 years.
The street name is one of the few remaining tangible remnants of what was once the largest brewery in Canada and considered a “cornerstone of industry” in St. Catharines. Founded by James Taylor, the operation was first named “The St. Catharines Brewery” before Taylor entered a partnership with Thomas B. Bate in 1857 and it was renamed Taylor & Bate Brewery. Together, with quote “unwavering confidence and good feeling between them,” Taylor and Bate worked to steadily grow their business until it supplied virtually the entire Niagara Peninsula with ales, porters, and lagers made of quote “the finest malts and hops only”, as well as pure vinegar and brewer’s malt. By 1878, the brewery had employed 25 workers and produced over 10,000 barrels a year.
The brewery occupied over 4 acres of land along the edge of the valley of Twelve Mile Creek, below the reputable Yates Street. The establishment utilized the adjacent waters as a source of waterpower, in the production process, as well as to transport kegs and barrels through the canal to further away destinations. Built on the premises were brew, malt, and bottling houses, offices, stables, an ice plant, and store vaults said to be built both underground and into the hillside to ensure ideal, cool temperatures.
The ownership and management of Taylor & Bate Brewery remained in the two families until the 1920s, when Niagara Falls businessman E.D. Sandell purchased the company. Preserving its namesake, Sandell vowed to maintain the brewery’s high reputation. Sandell’s respect for the legacy created by the brewery was proved further in 1930, when, after establishing a radio station in St. Catharines, was said to have chosen the initials CKTB after the then popular advertising slogan “A Cool Keg of Taylor and Bate.” A later beer was even named Silver Spire, after the radio station’s transmitting tower.
Taylor and Bate Brewery operated until 1935, when it was sold and then closed due to the worsening economic depression of the time. The buildings were razed in 1979 to make way for Highway 406, with heritage protection efforts arising too late.
Though its buildings are long gone, Taylor & Bate formed the foundations of Niagara’s ever-flourishing craft beverage scene that continues today. The breweries, brew pubs, and cocktail bars that colour St. Catharines’ downtown streetscapes today are reminiscent of the reputation cultivated by Taylor & Bate all those years ago.