life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage


Hiram Walker founded this great community in 1858- what follows is a timeline of his life in Walkerville.

  • Entrepreneur

  • Distiller

  • Industrial Baron

  • Founding Father

  • Benevolent Dictator

  • Teetoller


Hiram Walker, of East Douglas, Massachusetts, purchases 468 acres of land east of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, (pop: 1,000), across the river from Detroit, Michigan . Walker, hoping to relocate his Detroit whisky operation, liked the lax liquor laws and access to an expanding Victorian British Empire.



Walker's investment of $40,000 built a flour mill, a distillery and a hog farm opposite the bustling city of Detroit on lands thought to be settled by the Ottawa Indians and the great chief Pontiac.





Walker's operation continues to expand and flourish; he announces that he will "barrel" his whisky.  In his day, distillers sold their products in unmarked barrels, but Hiram Walker set a precedent by putting his product in bottles that bore his name:  Walker's Club Whisky.


"We will make a fine whisky and we do not wish it to be confused with inferior products. We will also brand each barrel, so that discriminating patrons...can trust its quality."



In only 12 years, Hiram Walker's becomes the biggest operation of its kind in the new Confederation of Canada. 




1875.jpgHiram Walker provides amenities, lacking in many larger urban centres, for the people of Walkerville , including street lights, well-paved and drained streets, a water pumping station, running water, a police force and a fire department- all at his expense.



For twenty one years, Hiram Walker commuted from his home in Detroit through Windsor to Walkerville. Tired of this often arduous and time consuming journey, he leased the ferry Essex, built docking facilities at the distillery and on his property at the foot of Walker St. in Detroit. Thus began the Walkerville and Detroit Ferry Company, which continued to operate until 1942.



Meanwhile, U.S. distillers, fearing "Walker's Club" whisky's growing popularity, petition Washington for legislation requiring imports to designate their country of origin, hoping to limit Club's growth.

Walker complies and "Canadian Club" is born.

Walker's whisky becomes more popular than ever, and is the first Canadian brand to be marketed worldwide.



Hoping to build a model community, Hiram Walker strives to keep Walkerville a separate entity and succeeds in incorporating it as a town, partly to prevent amalgamation with Windsor. Walker seeks out the best professional advice on architecture and planning available at the time.

Walker employed almost the entire population of 600 souls in some capacity. Workmen were offered a lease to a Walker cottage and if they declined, they would likely be denied employment!

devonshire1890.jpgWalker never sold the land or the company-built cottages. Consequently, he was able to control the type of individual that would live in the village.

Walkerville is unparalleled as a Canadian community, due to its high standard of urban design and the quality of architecture. The quality of life inspires in its residents a sense of fierce loyalty and pride.

drinkers.jpgWho's the best man in this town?
Hiram Walker, Hiram Walker.
What's the best brand in this town?
Old Club Whisky, Old Club Whisky.
Favourite Drinking Song in the 1880's)



Hiram Walker declares war on "frauds" who counterfeit his brand of whisky. He warns the public with a series of daring advertisements describing the crime and the list of offending brands. He publicizes the fakers by name and invites them to file a libel suit to prove he is wrong. "It is only the good things which are imitated" says one sign.



At a cost of $100,000, Hiram Walker erects a beautiful new main office on the riverfront. Modelled after the Pandolfini Palace in Florence, Italy, it was designed by Mason & Rice with interiors by Albert Kahn, etc...


Hiram Walker dies at the age of 84 .Canadian Club whisky, the brand he built into a worldwide success and Walkerville, the town he built into the pride of the Great Lakes remain as his legacy.postcardclr.jpg

In his lifetime, Walker reigned undisputed monarch of all under his surveillance. If he cherished a railway, he would have it, if humanly possible. As in his other endeavours, he would tolerate no interference from other sources, but would accept nothing less than complete control over the enterprise.

originalford.jpgHiram Walker's enterprises were so profitable, he was able to provide capital for the development and growth of many other new firms, including the Walkerville Wagon Works, which became the Ford Automotive Plant, completely altering the business landscape of the 20th century.

Buy The Hiram Walker here

next page: Hiram Walker Tales



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