Gooderham and Worts Distillers – Raw Materials to Finished Products

historical artifacts in the historical distillery district in Toronto

Canadian History Not in a Museum

Exploring the lobby of Building 58 -59 in the Distillery District is a great adventure for those who love Canadian history.  It contains a display of historical artifacts involved in the alcohol production at Gooderham and Worts.  Exhibition of these items in their own architectural heritage buildings gives more meaning to their context.  It’s even more interesting that these historical buildings are a not part of a museum but diverse contemporary functional buildings with a variety of functions.  The first thing you notice is bottles of Gooderham and Worts diverse display of bottles.  Scales dating from the 1930′s illustrate ideas of the inventory management system during this era.  Scales were used at the distillery to measure everything from raw materials to finished products.  These Fairbanks-Morse scales date from about 1930 and were used to identify filled antifreeze containers that were “over” and “under” weight.

Looking at old historical alcohol bottles in building 58 in the distillery district in Toronto

Paris and Antwerp Bottles

The oldest fully dressed bottle from the Building 58-59 display dates from 1908 and bears World’s fair gold metals won in 1878 (Paris) and 1885 (Antwerp) for those interested bottle collections.  Another bottle of interest dates from 1927.  This is of importance because it’s the year that Prohibition of alcohol ended in Ontario.Gooderham and Worts bottles in the historical distillery district

The Roller Conveyor

Boxes of bottles and cans were moved around the Cannery and into the Case Goods Warehouse by a system of vertical spiral chutes and horizontal roller conveyors.  A different style of production planning was used during that time.   As early as 1924, Mathews “continuous flow principle of handling materials” was installed and continued to be used until 1990.   Now we have electronic systems with things such as reed switches that further the advancement of the production line even more.

Inventory management in the distillery district in Toronto at Gooderham and WortsLarry Turner Photographs of the Case Goods Warehouse

Hand carts have been used ever since Gooderham and Worts opened to more heavy objects around the site.  Early models were entirely wooden while new models featured cast-iron wheels and metal frames.  Larry Turners photographs of the two-storey spiral conveyors in the 1980′s shows how the Case Goods Warehouse was arranges during the industrial working life from 1927 until 1990.  Toronto distillery district in Buildings 58 - 59 artifacts

Bottling and Canning Whiskey

Initially, whiskey was sold by the barrel.  In the mid 1880s distillers were authorized to bottle their own products and Gooderham and Worts opened a Bottling Room on the top floor of Building 58 and 59.  Spirits were piped to the Bottling Room where bottles were washed, filled, corked(later capped) labeled and packaged.  BToronto historical distillery district Gooderham and Worts alcohol productiony the 1930′s women were employed to work on bottling lines in various distilleries, including that of G &W.  Soon after, G & W introduced canning production lines for industrial -alcohol products like anti-freeze.  As automobiles become increasingly popular, individual, one quart and one gallon cans came to replace steel drums.

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About Ruth Wilgress

Ruth is an expressive arts therapist in Toronto Ontario Canada.
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