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Rossdale Brewery


Other Names:
Desrochers / Rossdale Brewery
Edmonton Brewery and Malting Company
Edmonton Brewing and Malting Co.
Edmonton Brewing and Malting Company

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company Brewery is an early twentieth-century, three-and-one-half-storey building situated on portions of four lots in Edmonton's Rossdale district. The red-brick building is a typical industrial structure of the period and features simple, robust massing, a gable roof, and plain facades largely devoid of ornamentation.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company Brewery lies in its association with the establishment of beer-production in Edmonton and its status as a fine example of period industrial architecture.

The years prior to World War One were boom times for breweries in Alberta. In 1904, W. H. Sheppard, owner of the Strathcona Hotel, decided to capitalize on the public's demand for beer. With partners Tommy and W. E. Lines, he established the Edmonton Brewing and Malting Company, the first major beer-producing enterprise in the city. The venture produced some 2,000 barrels of beer in 1905, its inaugural year. Just three years later, the company was producing roughly 20,000 barrels. Success necessitated greater space for the operation and in 1913 the brewery was relocated to 104 Avenue and 121 Street. In the wake of the devastating flood of the Rossdale area in 1915 and the introduction of Prohibition in 1917, the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company Brewery building was used for various enterprises, including the workings of the Arctic Ice Company, also owned by Sheppard. Following the return of controlled drinking in the province in the mid-1920s, the building was reclaimed for beer-making by the short-lived New Edmonton Breweries company. After 1930, the brewery building was put to varied use by several companies.

The Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company Brewery building was constructed in 1905. Situated in the midst of both residential and industrial structures - a not uncommon arrangement prior to modern city planning - the brewery was an integral part of the cultural landscape of Rossdale, one of Edmonton's earliest and most significant communities. It remains one of the few structural reminders of the historic district. The unembellished style of the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company Brewery and its utilitarian design are typical of the industrial architecture of the period. As one of the few early industrial buildings still extant in the province and one of the much rarer brewery structures remaining, the site possesses particular significance.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 51)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company Brewery include such features as:
- mass, form, and scale;
- red-brick exterior;
- gable roof over most of structure and hip roof over south-east corner;
- large penthouse vents with pyramidal roofs;
- original headers over doors and windows;
- segmental arches above windows;
- projecting brick and stone sills;
- fenestration pattern and style, including multi-paned windows and circular window on north elevation;
- original interior elements, including doors, heavy timber beams and support columns, wooden ceiling, chutes, stairs, and ladders;
- layout and volume of third floor.


Street Address: 9843 - 100 Street NW
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Plan Q, Block 15, portion of Lots 12 to 15 inclusive
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
12 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.537003 -113.490462 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Registered Historic Resource Rescinded
Date of Designation: 1980/01/28

Historical Information

Built: 1904 to 1904
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Industry : Food and Beverage Manufacturing Facility
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling

The Rossdale Brewery is the oldest standing brewery in Edmonton and the oldest standing unaltered brewery in the province. Built in 1905 by W.H. Shepard, owner of the Strathcona Hotel, at a time when the brewing industry was flourishing in Alberta, it operated as the Edmonton Brewery and Malting Company. Business was so successful that the company moved to larger premises in 1913. It was eventually taken over by the Sick brewing empire. Two extant breweries predate this structure: the Cross Brewery (1892) in Calgary, which has been much altered, and the Lethbridge Brewery (1901), only part of which is still standing. The Rossdale Brewery is thus the oldest unaltered industrial structure of this type in Alberta. In design the Rossdale Brewery is a basic industrial building of a type fairly common in the pre-War era, of which few examples now exist.

(R. Sherbaniuk, 1979)



In 1891, the Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories passed a Liquor Licensing ordinance which granted licenses for hotels to sell liquor for consumption on the premises. With a few amendments, this remained in effect until Alberta became a province in 1905. In May 1906, the province's own Liquor Licensing Ordinance provided for the sale of liquor on licensed premises at both wholesale and retail levels. By this time, beer was being consumed at most hotels in the province.

Although small brewing operations sprang up at varying locations, the favoured supplier for hotels in Alberta had been the Calgary Brewing & Malting Company in Calgary. With the population of Edmonton growing with the turn of the twentieth century, W.H. Sheppard of Strathcona felt it was time that a major brewery was erected in the Edmonton area. In 1904, he incorporated the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company and acquired Lots 12 to 15, Block 15 in Edmonton on Ross Flats not far from the Edmonton Hotel. Sheppard himself was the owner of the Strathcona Hotel, which was near the Edmonton, Yukon & Pacific Railway line which provided rail service across the Low Level Bridge onto the Ross Flats. Another consideration was the advent of a hoist elevator service up the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River, which could take freight and passengers from the Flats up the hill right into downtown Edmonton. Sheppard acquired the equipment of an earlier brewer, Tom Cairns, purchased new equipment, hired Tom Lines to be his manager and Ed Sterner to be his brew master. He also arranged for the construction of a large new brick building to serve as his brewery, while smaller wood frame storage buildings were erected next to it.

The brewing business proceeded to flourish in Edmonton, and, by 1908, the annual production of the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company was estimated at 20,000 barrels, which were distributed to bars all across north-central Alberta. By 1912, however, the advantage of being located on the Ross Flats began to diminish. That year, work was begun on a high level bridge, which would soon bring an end to the E, Y & P Railway and the hoist up Bellamy Hill was dismantled. Thus, with the demand for beer growing, Sheppard and associates decided to build a new brewery on 121st Street and 104th Avenue. This soon became the main production centre. In 1915, a major flood devastated all properties in the Rossdale neighbourhood, and, in 1917, prohibition was introduced in Alberta. All brewing operations immediately went into sharp decline. The brewery in Rossdale was closed altogether, and, in 1917, the property was sold to Frank Crispo, who appears to have used it primarily for storage.

The prohibition era continued in Alberta until 1924, when a plebiscite called for the return of controlled drinking to the province. Bars were still limited to the sale of beer, although provision was made for them to sell beer for consumption off the premises. Taking heart was a group of investors headed by Bill Wilkin, who now incorporated New Edmonton Breweries Ltd. Taking a $2,500 option with the Bank of Montreal, they acquired the old brewery building on Ross Flats, undertook some renovations, and began to brew beer in what was called the Northwest Brewing building. The operation lasted for only four years before the group sold out to the Bohemian Maid brewing company, which soon erected a new brewing facility on the hillside south of Walterdale.

In the meantime, the old brewery property in Rossdale was acquired by John L. Little, Elmer Huff and Orson Archer, who were in the brick and construction business. Two years later, it was purchased by Andrew MacGregor of MacGregor Telephone & Power Construction. In 1962, it was taken over by Aylon G. Gouchee, who made the building over into a garage, primarily for Volkswagon automobiles. It served as a garage until the 1970s, and, in recent years, was acquired by the architect, Eugene Dub.


The historical significance of the Rossdale Brewery building lies in its service as the first major brewery in Edmonton, serving much of north-central Alberta prior to the construction of a new brewery on 121st Street and 104th Avenue in 1913.

(D. Leonard, 2006)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0448
Designation File: DES 0051
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 20791
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 51)
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