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The Whiskey History of Walkerville, Ontario

May 4th, 2012

Canadian Club Brand Heritage Centre
Photo credit: Good Food Revolution

Did you know that Canadians had a major role to play during the Prohibition era? You might be surprised to learn that Canadian whiskey fuelled organized crime along the Eastern seaboard for almost 13 years during those times when consuming beverage alcohol was made illegal by the United States government.

History buffs and whiskey lovers alike will enjoy learning more about the Canadian contribution to one of North America’s most infamous eras as they tour the Walker & Sons facilities in Windsor, Ontario. Located in Walkerville, a town built by Hiram Walker for the staff and executives of his distillery, the Walker & Sons factory has been producing Canadian Club whiskey more than a century. Walker, a native of Detroit, built the distillery across the river due to increasing pressure from prohibition supporters. The family developed close ties to gangsters like  Al Capone (a regular at the Walker mansion and credited with coining the term “speakeasy”) and Atlantic City treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, and remnants of their sordid past can be found throughout the compound.

Behind every door of Hiram Walker’s one-time home (which was converted into the International Brand Center several years ago) you will uncover a different secret about Canada’s involvement in prohibition, from the coded messages used in shipping, to the various means of smuggling bottles across the river. Learn the origin of the terms “proof” and “cocktail”, or catch a glimpse of the behind the myth, the real Bill McCoy, as you sample different ages of whiskey and get behind-the-scenes insight into the unique distillation process that makes Canadian Club so smooth and mellow.

For tour information, please visit the online at, or you can take an interactive tour on their Facebook page.

You can find more photos of the Canadian Club Brand Heritage Centre and tour at Good Food Revolution.

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