Christie, Brown & Company – Once Canada’s Largest Biscuit Maker

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1891 - Sketch of Christie, Brown & Company Factory at its original 3-story height
1891 – Sketch of Christie, Brown & Company Factory at its original 3-story height (Toronto: Old and New 1891 by Adam G Mercer)

The former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E (bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St) in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto.

Mr Christie

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.

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 became the company’s sole owner. 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 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

1972 – Looking northeast from King St E and George St towards the former Christie, Brown & Company. Hallmark Cards later occupied the building
1972 – Looking northeast from King St E and George St towards the former Christie, Brown & Company. Hallmark Cards later occupied the building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 20, Item 9)

In 1928, the Christie family sold the business to the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco Brands Ltd). The factory was in use as a Nabisco bakery for a few decades, and in 1954, they sold it to greeting card maker William E Coutts Company – Hallmark Cards. In 1971, 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 Stable

2020 - The former Christie, Brown & Company Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – The former Christie, Brown & Company Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto

The stable was 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

2022 – Looking southwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E, bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St, in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Looking southwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E, bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St, in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 - Looking southwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now the George Brown College at Adelaide St E and  Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 – Looking southwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now the George Brown College at Adelaide St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 18, Item 5)
2023 – Looking southeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E, bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St, in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 – Looking southeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E, bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St, in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 – Looking southeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 – Looking southeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 20, Item 5)
1902 - Postcard of the Christie, Brown & Company Factory (Toronto Public Library R-3105)
1902 – Postcard of the Christie, Brown & Company Factory (Toronto Public Library R-3105)
1891 - Sketch of Christie, Brown & Company Factory at its original 3-story height
1891 – Sketch of Christie, Brown & Company Factory at its original 3-story height (Toronto: Old and New 1891 by Adam G Mercer)
2020 – Looking southwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now the George Brown College at Adelaide St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking southwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now the George Brown College at Adelaide St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 – Looking northeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E, bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St, in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 – Looking northeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Factory, now George Brown College, is located on Adelaide St E, bordered by Frederick St, King St W and George St, in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 – Looking northeast from King St E and George St towards the former Christie, Brown & Company. Hallmark Cards later occupied the building
1972 – Looking northeast from King St E and George St towards the former Christie, Brown & Company. Hallmark Cards later occupied the building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 20, Item 9)
2020 – Looking northeast from King St E and George St towards the former Christie, Brown & Company in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. Today the building is home to George Brown College
2020 – Looking northeast from King St E and George St towards the former Christie, Brown & Company in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. Today the building is home to George Brown College
1979 - View from Front St E and Frederick St, looking northwest with the former Christie, Brown & Company Offices and Factory in the background in Toronto’s  St Lawrence neighbourhood
1979 – View from Front St E and Frederick St, looking northwest with the former Christie, Brown & Company Offices and Factory in the background in Toronto’s St Lawrence neighbourhood (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1527, File 57, Item 67)
2020 – Looking northwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Office and Factory, now the George Brown College at King St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking northwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Office and Factory, now the George Brown College at King St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 – Looking northwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company at King St E and Frederick St building
1972 – Looking northwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company at King St E and Frederick St building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 20, Item 28)
2023 – Looking north up Frederick St from King St E towards Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 – Looking north up Frederick St from King St E towards Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
August 20, 1927 – Looking north up Frederick St from King St E towards the Gray Line coaches at the Christie, Brown & Company building for their picnic. Notice at the top of Frederick St the Campbell House at its original location on Adelaide St. It was moved to 160 Queen St W  in 1972 and today is a City of Toronto museum
August 20, 1927 – Looking north up Frederick St from King St E towards the Gray Line coaches at the Christie, Brown & Company building for their picnic. Notice at the top of Frederick St the Campbell House at its original location on Adelaide St. It was moved to 160 Queen St W in 1972 and today is a City of Toronto museum (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 5194)
2023 - Looking northwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Office and Factory, now the George Brown College at King St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 – Looking northwest towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Office and Factory, now the George Brown College at King St E and Frederick St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1915 - Christie's Biscuits and Robertson's chocolates for soldiers of the First World War in front of the Christie, Brown & Company building at King St E and Frederick St
1915 – Christie’s Biscuits and Robertson’s chocolates for soldiers of the First World War in front of the Christie, Brown & Company building at King St E and Frederick St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1426)
2022 – Looking north from King St E towards Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Looking north from King St E towards Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
1994 - Looking north on Frederick St from King St E towards the former Christie, Brown & Company, now George Brown College on the left
1994 – Looking north on Frederick St from King St E towards the former Christie, Brown & Company, now George Brown College on the left (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 182, Item 46)
Between 1909 and 1920s - Advertising on a billboard for Christie's Favorites in gift packages shortbread, plum pudding, best assorted and Christmas cake
Between 1909 and 1920s – Advertising on a billboard for Christie’s Favorites in gift packages shortbread, plum pudding, best assorted and Christmas cake (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1701)
Between 1931 and 1935 – The ad reads: Christie's Assorted Sandwich, With fruit-flavored creamy fillings! The standard & quality since 1853
Between 1931 and 1935 – The ad reads: Christie’s Assorted Sandwich, With fruit-flavored creamy fillings! The standard & quality since 1853 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 273)
Between 1930 and 1935 - Advertising on a billboard for Christie's Arrowroot Biscuits. The standard & quality since 1853
Between 1930 and 1935 – Advertising on a billboard for Christie’s Arrowroot Biscuits. The standard & quality since 1853 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 4111)
Between 1931 and 1935 – The ad reads: for Health and Strength Christie's Graham Wafers
Between 1931 and 1935 – The ad reads: for Health and Strength Christie’s Graham Wafers (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 286)
Between 1929 and 1930 - Advertising on a billboard for Christie's One pound Assorted. A tempting assortment of choice biscuits
Between 1929 and 1930 – Advertising on a billboard for Christie’s One pound Assorted. A tempting assortment of choice biscuits (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 3366)
Circa 1930 - Baker and gas oven at the Christie, Brown & Company Factory
Circa 1930 – Baker and gas oven at the Christie, Brown & Company Factory (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1034, Item 203)
September 1, 1928 - Christie's Biscuit float at the Canadian National Exhibition Floral Parade
September 1, 1928 – Christie’s Biscuit float at the Canadian National Exhibition Floral Parade (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 14637)
1912 - Looking southeast from the Temple Building at Richmond St W and Bay St. Notice Christie's Biscuits sign in the distance on the left. For reference, the building in the centre that says "$25" was the Arcade Building, which was located on the east side of Yonge St opposite Temperance St
1912 – Looking southeast from the Temple Building at Richmond St W and Bay St. Notice Christie’s Biscuits sign in the distance on the left. For reference, the building in the centre that says “$25” was the Arcade Building, which was located on the east side of Yonge St opposite Temperance St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 10080)
2023 – The heritage plaque reads: George Brown College St. James Campus - 1874 "Canada's largest biscuit manufacturer, Christie, Brown & Co., built this factory complex over a 40-year period. At its peak, it employed nearly 400 workers. The original three-storey building was enlarged and altered in a variety of architectural styles. The structures have common attributes typically of industrial buildings at the time, such as red and yellow brick details and repeating semi-circular windows. In 1954, it was occupied by the William E. Coutts Company, which manufactured greeting cards. George Brown College acquired this building in 1971. It is named after George Brown (1818-1880), who founded the Globe newspaper and was a major proponent of public education. The college teaches a variety of classes in technology, culinary arts, and business." Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2011 - Heritage Toronto 2019
2023 – The heritage plaque reads:

George Brown College St. James Campus – 1874

“Canada’s largest biscuit manufacturer, Christie, Brown & Co., built this factory complex over a 40-year period. At its peak, it employed nearly 400 workers. The original three-storey building was enlarged and altered in a variety of architectural styles. The structures have common attributes typically of industrial buildings at the time, such as red and yellow brick details and repeating semi-circular windows. In 1954, it was occupied by the William E. Coutts Company, which manufactured greeting cards. George Brown College acquired this building in 1971. It is named after George Brown (1818-1880), who founded the Globe newspaper and was a major proponent of public education. The college teaches a variety of classes in technology, culinary arts, and business.”

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2011 – Heritage Toronto 2019
2020 - The heritage plaque reads:

George Brown College - St. James Campus 
 
"This fine example of industrial architecture incorporates the 1874 factory built at Duke (Adelaide) and Frederick Streets by Christie, Brown & Co., the largest biscuit manufacturer in Canada. The original three-story building, greatly enlarged and altered over the years, was occupied in 1953 by William Coutts Co., manufacturers of greeting cards and paper products. George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, founded in 1968, acquired this complex in 1971. In 1974-5 the interior was rebuilt within the original exterior walls, where the College now provides diverse educational programmes for the community."

Toronto Historical Board 1977
2020 – The heritage plaque reads:

George Brown College – St. James Campus

“This fine example of industrial architecture incorporates the 1874 factory built at Duke (Adelaide) and Frederick Streets by Christie, Brown & Co., the largest biscuit manufacturer in Canada. The original three-story building, greatly enlarged and altered over the years, was occupied in 1953 by William Coutts Co., manufacturers of greeting cards and paper products. George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, founded in 1968, acquired this complex in 1971. In 1974-5 the interior was rebuilt within the original exterior walls, where the College now provides diverse educational programmes for the community.”

Toronto Historical Board 1977
2020 - The former Christie, Brown & Company Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – The former Christie, Brown & Company Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 - The heritage plaque reads:

Christie, Brown & Co. Stable - 1907

"This building was once a stable that housed horses and wagons for one of Canada's largest biscuit manufacturers. From here, Christie, Brown & Company delivered baked goods prepared at its Adelaide Street factory across Toronto.

 Designed by the architectural firm of Sproatt & Rolph, the building's Beaux-Arts Classical style was popular at the turn of the 20th century for its appearance of stability and grandeur. With elements such as the contrasting stone trim and arcade windows, it was built to reflect the appearance of the nearby Christie Factory. The state-of-the-art stable included two floors of wagon storage with a purpose-made elevator, stalls in the back for the care of sick horses, and a central horse shower underneath a large skylight.

Founded by Scottish-born businessman William Christie (1829-1900), Christie Brown & Company manufactured over 400 types of baked goods at its peak. In 1928, Nabisco acquired the company. The stable was later used as a garage, seed plant, and film production office. It is now part of a residential complex."

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2015 - Heritage Toronto 2019
2023 – The heritage plaque reads:

Christie, Brown & Co. Stable – 1907

“This building was once a stable that housed horses and wagons for one of Canada’s largest biscuit manufacturers. From here, Christie, Brown & Company delivered baked goods prepared at its Adelaide Street factory across Toronto.

Designed by the architectural firm of Sproatt & Rolph, the building’s Beaux-Arts Classical style was popular at the turn of the 20th century for its appearance of stability and grandeur. With elements such as the contrasting stone trim and arcade windows, it was built to reflect the appearance of the nearby Christie Factory. The state-of-the-art stable included two floors of wagon storage with a purpose-made elevator, stalls in the back for the care of sick horses, and a central horse shower underneath a large skylight.

Founded by Scottish-born businessman William Christie (1829-1900), Christie Brown & Company manufactured over 400 types of baked goods at its peak. In 1928, Nabisco acquired the company. The stable was later used as a garage, seed plant, and film production office. It is now part of a residential complex.”

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2015 – Heritage Toronto 2019
Between 1975 and 1993 – Looking northeast on Berkeley St from Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. On the right side half way up is the former Christie, Brown & Company Stable. Today, the heritage building has been incorporated into the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St
Between 1975 and 1993 – Looking northeast on Berkeley St from Adelaide St E in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. On the right side half way up is the former Christie, Brown & Company Stable. Today, the heritage building has been incorporated into the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 145, Item 1)
1972 - Looking southeast from the corner of Richmond St E and Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. In the distance is the former Christie, Brown & Company Stable. Today, the heritage building has been incorporated into the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St
1972 – Looking southeast from the corner of Richmond St E and Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. In the distance is the former Christie, Brown & Company Stable. Today, the heritage building has been incorporated into the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 21, Item 28)
2023 – Looking east from Berkeley St towards the former Christie, Brown & Co Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. The Beaux-Arts Classicism building was constructed by architects Sproatt & Rolph in 1906 and is about 500 m to the east of the factory
2023 – Looking east from Berkeley St towards the former Christie, Brown & Co Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. The Beaux-Arts Classicism building was constructed by architects Sproatt & Rolph in 1906 and is about 500 m to the east of the factory
2021 – Looking northeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. The biscuit company delivered their products by horse and wagon.
2021 – Looking northeast towards the former Christie, Brown & Company Stable, now the East United Condo at 95 Berkeley St in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto. The biscuit company delivered their products by horse and wagon.
2020 - Mr Christie's Water Tower at Park Lawn Rd near Lake Shore Blvd in Etobicoke
2020 – Mr Christie’s Water Tower at Park Lawn Rd near Lake Shore Blvd in Etobicoke
Between 1980 and 1990s - Mr Christie's Bakery at Park Lawn Rd near Lake Shore Blvd W in The Queensway–Humber Bay of Etobicoke, Toronto
Between 1980 and 1990s – Mr Christie’s Bakery at Park Lawn Rd near Lake Shore Blvd W in The Queensway–Humber Bay of Etobicoke, Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 175, Item 5)
Circa 1880 - Christie, Brown & Co. biscuit manufacturers
Circa 1880 – Christie, Brown & Co. biscuit manufacturers (Toronto Public Library CA-1880-CHRISTIE-VS)
SOURCE

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