Entrepreneurs and Innovators - Part 5
On now until February 2, the Galt Museum and Archives presents an exhibit celebrating southwestern Alberta businesses, inventors and researchers. Entrepreneurs and Innovators features photos from the Galt Archives's holdings, and can be seen in the lower gallery, outside the archives. This blog post is the fifth instalment in a series based on the exhibit.
This week's post features two southwestern Alberta businesses that grew from small enterprises supplying local needs into large concerns serving sizable markets. The Sick's Brewery began in Lethbridge, and soon grew to be one of the major players in the beer and soda markets of western Canada and the northwest United States.
After operating several breweries in British Columbia that proved unsuccessful, Fritz Sick moved to Lethbridge and founded what would eventually be called Lethbridge Breweries Limited. When prohibition was introduced in 1916, Sick's business survived by making soft drinks, beer for export and a 1.2% "near beer." In 1923, the year prohibition was repealed in Alberta, his son Emil graduated university and joined the business. Together, they soon grew the business to include two hop farms and five plants throughout western Canada and four in the northwestern United States. The Sicks founded Associated Breweries Limited in the 1920s to manage their growing holdings. When Fritz retired in 1930, Emil took over operations and continued to manage Associated Breweries until the breweries were sold to Molson in 1959. Fritz Sick first brewed his Old Style Pilsner in 1926, and Molson continues to brew this brand to this day. The Sick’s "6" soft drink operations were purchased by 7-Up Bottling Limited in 1965.
The Ducan Canvas Company Limited was formed in 1954, operating a canvas sewing shop at 1520 2nd Avenue South. The company grew and by 1964 Ducan landed a major contract with International Harvester Limited to provide canvas products for its binders, swathers and combines. The firm, now called Ducan Industries, has continued to grow and expand its range to include metal frame furniture, hardwood furniture frames , mattresses, window coverings, and furniture for recreational vehicles.
By Sven Andreassen
Sven Andreassen is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia's Master of Archival Studies program. He volunteered in the Galt Archives in 2013 and curated this exhibit.