This October, Labatt Breweries of Canada is proud to celebrate its 175th anniversary of brewing excellence as a leader in the Canadian beer and total beverage space. Established in 1847 by John Kinder Labatt in London, Ontario, Labatt has endured two world wars, prohibition, the global pandemic and an ever-evolving consumer landscape. Through it all, Labatt has grown to include six key breweries from coast-to-coast, four craft breweries, 70 brands and more than 3,600 skilled craftspeople and professionals – further solidifying its footprint on Canadian history and culture.
To celebrate this milestone, Labatt is partnering with Toronto Harbourfront Centre to deliver a special art exhibition – A Brewing Affair – open from October 7-23, showcasing its illustrious history, from inception to present day, including some of the innovative solutions Labatt has created in its lifetime that will continue the company’s legacy well into the future.
“As we celebrate our 175th anniversary and look to the future, we’ve set our sights on redefining what it means to be a total beverage company,” says Mika Michaelis, President of Labatt Breweries of Canada. “To do this, we’re leaning into our global purpose: We Dream Big to Create a Future with More Cheers. It’s what inspires us to continue to deliver innovative, NextGen, customer-centric ideas and solutions.”
Today, Labatt is evolving into a tech-forward, total beverage company by putting digital and customer-centricity at the heart of its growth strategy. This includes the successful pilot of a proprietary B2B e-commerce platform, BEES, as well as establishing the Labatt Impact Lab with the University of Toronto’s Engineering department to create a hub for analytics and artificial intelligence.
“I just don’t think that anybody could survive in the Canadian brewing industry without being innovative,” says Matthew Bellamy, professor of history at Carleton University and author of Brewed in the North: A History of Labatt’s. “John Kinder Labatt was influenced and motivated by the technological innovations of the industrial revolution, and that impulse to innovate and disrupt is part of Labatt’s DNA, now and forever.”
Labatt has played an integral role in Canada’s history, ranging from a timely donation of 1,000 pounds of flour to a local soup kitchen in London, Ontario, during an economic depression in 1859 to an investment of $461.5 million between 2019 and 2022, aiding Canada’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. But Labatt’s impact extends beyond its investments. Labatt has supported Canadian communities when they need it most.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Labatt played an active role in relief efforts by activating its Canadian Disaster Relief Program to shift production of beer to make 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, donated 225,000 cans of clean drinking water to the City of Toronto’s shelter programs, and provided support to Food Banks Canada and bars and restaurants by donating facemasks and reopening kits. The support for communities across Canada continued beyond tangibles when Labatt helped form a national consortium to encourage vaccine confidence across Canada, This is Our Shot.
Contributing to emergency responses is a mainstay of Labatt. The Disaster Relief Program has donated nearly one million cans of safe drinking water to Canadian communities in need, most notably during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, New Brunswick’s historic floods in 2018, the wildfires in British Columbia in 2020 and 2021 and most recently in Nova Scotia because of Hurricane Fiona.
Labatt’s role in shaping the country’s culture throughout history is undeniable. As it marks 175 years of brewing in Canada, Labatt is focused on a future in which it continues to create tech-forward solutions, contributes to the communities it serves, and dreams up ways to move the industry forward.
A Brewing Affair, celebrating Labatt’s 175th anniversary, is an outdoor installation open to the public from October 7th to the 23rd at the Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West.