The natural spring that runs under this site has quenched the thirst of Hamiltonians for generations. It was the reason that Peter Grant and his partners built a factory here in 1842. The spring’s pure waters ran into this plant, and some of the province’s best known ales, porters and other beers flowed out.
The products of the small brewery were enthusiastically received. As one satisfied customer put it, happy was the man “with slippered feet on the fender, and a mug of Grant’s Pale Ale at his elbow.”
The brewery had expanded considerably by the 1860s. The stone building now fronted 33 metres along Bay Street and extended 68 metres back along Mulberry Street. Two underground storeys of vaults provided cool production and storage space. The brewery’s 30 workers were pumping out more than half a million bottles of ale a year by the 1880s.
Around this time, James Lottridge, Grant’s son-in-law, joined the firm. He helped introduce the light, refreshing Germanic brew, the lager, to the brewery’s product list. Production at this factory continued into the first part of the 20th century.
Working families started calling this neighbourhood home around the 1850s. Low wages, an unstable economy and the lack of year-round work in many trades often meant that a husband’s wages were not sufficient to support a family. Families devised innovative ways of supplementing and stretching their income. Sending children out to work, keeping livestock such as pigs and chickens, and taking in boarders were popular strategies to help bridge the gap.