The Scottish-born Mr William M Christie emigrated to Canada in the late 1840s, at the age of 19. Having already apprenticed as a biscuit maker in Scotland, he found work at the Mathers & Brown Bakery in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto. About a decade later, he began winning awards for his biscuits.
The Cookie Factory
In 1868, he partnered with his former employer Alexander Brown to form Christie, Brown and Company. By the mid-1870s, the cookie empire became so big that their factory took up an entire city block on the south side of Adelaide St E (then Duke St), stretching from George to Frederick Sts. Their cookies were mechanically produced to be shipped across the country. In the late 1870s, Mr Christie bought out his partner and become the sole owner of the company. By 1890, two out of three workers in Toronto’s biscuit-making industry worked for his company. Did you know about the Christie Mansion in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood?
Through the years, there have been additions to the original Romanesque Revival style factory building. One such addition was raising the building from three stories to five stories while other additions extended the complex further south on Frederick and George Sts. A notable addition was the eight-storey office building and factory on the northwest corner of King St E and Frederick St. Built in 1914, this particular structure was designed by architects Sproatt & Rolph in Edwardian Classicism style.
Nabisco, Hallmark Cards & George Brown College
In 1928, the Christie family sold the business to the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco Brands Ltd). The factory was in use as Nabisco bakery for a few decades and in 1954, they sold it to greeting card maker William E Coutts Company – Hallmark Cards. In 1970, George Brown College acquired the property and today, it’s the school’s St James Campus. The collection of late 19th and early 20th century buildings received heritage status in 1978.
Where did Nabisco move to? While Nabisco sold the Adelaide St factory in the 1950s, their new factory at Park Lawn Rd and Lake Shore Blvd in Etobicoke began operations in 1948. It closed in 2013 and the Mr Christie Bakery was demolished in 2018, leaving only the water tower.
Christie, Brown & Company Stables
The stables were located at 93-95 Berkeley St, between Adelaide St E and Richmond St E.
The biscuit company delivered their products by horse and wagon. They hired architects Sproatt & Rolph to design their stables. The Beaux-Arts Classicism building was constructed in 1906 and about 500 m to the east of the factory. The two-storey red brick structure features stone trim, a stepped façade and segmental-arched-headed windows. It also had a wagon elevator, a “granolithic” floor, red oak stalls and a special feed delivery system. There was a separate two-stall hospital building that has since been demolished. The Christie, Brown & Company Stable building received heritage status in 2014 and today is the East United Condo.
Christie, Brown & Company Photos
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography: William Mellis Christie
- The Canadian Encyclopedia: William Mellis Christie
- City of Toronto Report: 200 King St E
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 200 King St E
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 93-95 Berkeley St
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 93-95 Berkeley St
- Toronto: Old and New 1891 by Adam Mercer
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library