The Production of Anti-Freeze in the Distillery District in Toronto

the anti freeze cans in the toronto distillery district Gooderham and Warts canned and produced in the 1940s

Anti Freeze Cans Production in the Distillery

As I entered  Building 58 in the Distillery District I noticed a museum type of display.  There are many of these in the buildings throughout the district.   I had to read the plaques that accompanied the heritage displays for my tiny history lesson.   I was surprised to find that Gooderham and Worts veered into the anti-freeze production in addition to the spirits.   Apparently it was spurred on by both prohibition and the automobile age.

photo a photo of the historical distillery district in Toronto

Gooderham and Worts Alcohol Industry

Anti-freeze became big business at Gooderham and Worts.  By 1938, when G &W published about its’ alcohol industry to promote it’s industrial alcohol operation, anti-freeze probably constituted the single largest use of alcohol in Canada.  Hot-Shot, Maple Leaf, Jack Frost, and Bulldog were all produced and canned upstairs in the Cannery.  Who would have thought?   I didn’t.

photo The lean manufacturing during the early twentieth century in the distillery district in toronto

a photo of the distillery district in Toronto and the process manufacturing during that period in history.

1940′s Hand Canners and Hand Crimper in The Toronto Distillery

In the 1940′s the distillery workers were still manually attaching lids to antifreeze containers by pressing down on the long handles of these “hand canners” or “crimpers”.  Wow the tedious manual work  this must have been.   The healthy and safety standards were probably not that high back in this era either.

Hot-Shot, Maple Leaf, Jack Frost, and Bulldog

Anti freeze can in the historical distillery district  Hot Shot anti freeze can on display in one of the buildings in the distillery district in Toronto. It makes me think of the lean manufacturing and process manufacturing and the differences today.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of process manufacturing are in place now.  I’m sure there have been a lot changes since the 1930′s.  You can now actually view the anti-freeze gear pump 1910 model of Sylvanus Freelove Bowser’s revolutionary self-measuring pump and storage system that was located on the ground floor of the Cannery.  It was employed to pump and precisely measure industrial alcohol bound for canning on the third floor, not exactly the best lean manufacturing, but for the time, was probably the best process.  For the those who appreciate the artifacts explore the distillery district further and see what other little treasure displays reside in various buildings.

About Ruth Wilgress

Ruth is an expressive arts therapist in Toronto Ontario Canada.
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