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Hiram Walker (1816 - 1899)

"The young men of the present do not know the value of money. I hardly had time, as a young man, to go fishing, for I was always working. My habit, in my younger days of saving the pennies, has placed me where I am today." - Hiram Walker on his 74th birthday.

The man behind Canadian Club Whisky was born on fourth of July, 1815 in New England. He was never a Canadian citizen throughout his life.

In the 1830s, Walker owned a grocery store in Detroit, where he sold his own distilled cider vinegar. Soon he learned to distil whisky and produced his first barrels in 1854.

Meanwhile Michigan went dry as early as in the 1850s. So he moved across Detroit River to Canada to sell his whisky. Soon the entire United States went dry as national prohibition started in 1919. Although Walker's whisky business was still on the rise.

Thousands of gallons of his "Club" whisky crossed Detroit River through the legendary "liquor pipeline" illegally during the prohibition. Current members of Hiram Walker distillery says Al Capone was one of his most important clients at the time. Gunfire was a nightly occurrence on the banks of Detroit River, where the distillery is still situated today.

Walker's "Club" whisky was famous among elite members in the United States. Soon the U.S. whisky makers asked Walker to add the world "Canadian" to the name in order to make a clear distinction from the competing American whiskies.

By the late 1800s, Walker had many other businesses beside his distillery. His company employed almost the entire population of "Walkerville", where he helped build fire and police establishment, street lights and running water for the citizens. The name, "Walkerville" was officially incoporated as a town in 1890. In 1935, Walkerville became a part of Windsor, Ontario.

More:
  • History of Canadian Whisky
  • Canadian whisky cocktails

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