The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries caused dramatic changes in Ontario’s economy—along with the economies of Britain, the United States, and Europe. The development of railways and canals in the early 1800s facilitated trade across British North America and with the United States. In addition, the end of Britain’s mercantilist and protectionist policies in the 1840s and 1850s further boosted trade.
Changes included the repealing of the Canadian Corn Laws in 1854, which ended preferential treatment in Britain for British-grown wheat, and the Reciprocity Agreement between British North American and the United States (1854–1866), which reduced tariffs on goods sold on both sides of the border. These policies opened trade around the world and encouraged industrial innovation, rather than the trading of raw natural resources and agricultural goods.
With this burst of industrialization and relative openness of international and domestic trade, smaller manufacturing companies—such as breweries—began to emerge. British-born John Sleeman founded a brewery in the Niagara region in 1836 and later moved the company to Guelph. The London, Ontario-based company that would become Labatt Brewery was founded by John Kinder Labatt in 1847.
Read part 4 of The History Of Ontario’s Manufacturing Industry here.