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The Brewery Influenced Our Lives
H. R. (Tim) Timmermann & Diana Swanson for local2 sault ste. marie
February 18th, 2013 at 10:56am
Our family moved to the Sault from the Montreal area in 1943. Our Dad was the Brewmaster at the local brewery and both my sister Diana Swanson and I, H.R. (Tim) Timmermann Jr. have fond memories of growing up in the Sault; a city of then 30,000 inhabitants and living on Wellington Street during the 40’s and 50’s.
Our Dad, Hans R. Timmermann Sr., emigrated from Germany in 1933 after finishing his brewing studies in Berlin and graduating as a Master Brewer. He joined his parents and younger brother in Montreal where they settled after coming over in 1930.
Han’s first job was at the Dawes Black Horse Brewery for 26 cents per hour. He worked there as a Junior and later as an Assistant Master Brewer 1933-1940. Hans married Elisabeth (nee Gnass) in 1937 and their first child Hans Jr. (Tim) was born in 1939 shortly after both parents became Canadian citizens. After the war broke out, Hans and all other German born Brewery workers (80 in total) were dismissed because they were said to be “born in the wrong country.”
During the war Dad was known as “Hank” Timmermann as it was hard to find a job with a German name. Following his dismissal, Hank worked as a part-time photographer, before (ironically) finding a permanent job with Donald Inspection testing metal and concrete strength for the war effort.
In the late summer of 1943 Dad got a call from J. J. Doran, the owner of several small Northern Ontario breweries located in Timmins, Sudbury, Port Arthur/Fort William and the Sault. His Sault Brewmaster Bert Bille left suddenly and he offered Dad the job for $325 a month and a rent free house. Dad accepted the offer and gave notice to terminate the classified government job he had in Montreal and move to the Sault and occupy the brewery home on Wellington Street.
Several months later, wife Elisabeth, son Hans Jr. (Tim) and newborn daughter Diana followed. Dad was Master Brewer at the Soo Falls Brewing Co. later known as Doran’s Brewery for 17 years (1943-1960). Two additional children (John and Michael) were born in the Sault in 1951 and 1955 respectively.
After settling into the job and community, Dad became active in civic organizations especially with the Lions. He sponsored the Tuberculosis Association as chairman of the Christmas Seal Committee. He served as Secretary, President and Deputy District Governor in the Lions Club during the period 1946-1951. Dad joined the Masonic Order (Algoma Lodge No. 469) in 1955 and served as Assistant Secretary 1958-60, as well as achieving the Scottish Rite 32nd degree.
In 1955, Dad produced a special beer called “55” in honour of the Sault Lock Centennial (1855-1955). The “Brew” which consisted of equal parts Draft and Lager was popular for over 50 years until the brewery closed down in 2006.
We both have fond memories of accompanying Dad to the Brewery on Sunday mornings and watching him climb a ladder and scooping foam from the open wooden oak fermenting vats and testing the upcoming “brew” for specific gravity and clarity. Then we were allowed to pick a pop, (Mandalay Punch or Orange Crush) from the Brewery cooler.
When the Brewery replaced the oak vats with iron glass-lined ones, Dad salvaged some of the wooden oak staves to frame-in an addition to our Squirrel Island cottage, east of the Sault.
In a letter to a friend in Germany, penned Jan. 3, 1949, Dad writes in part, “It is more pleasant to live in a Democracy where personal freedom is practiced for all. Over here in Canada, one can fashion ones life as one wants, criticize when one wants, to government, or magistrate, that makes no difference. I must say, I have become endeared to living in this country and I enjoy living here very much.
Here one can raise a family and give the children a good education. The area around our city is wonderful. It has forests, water and many inland lakes and streams. We are directly opposite a city with the same name which can be reached by a ferry over the river. We often spend weekends in the U.S.A over the river.”
Canada accepted large numbers of new immigrants following WWII. Our Dad sponsored the emigration of his cousin Heinz Maass and his family from Hamburg to the Sault in 1950 as Canada opened its doors to Europeans displaced by war. Heinz initially worked in the Brewery for a short period before assuming a position as a Pattern Maker at Algoma Steel. Some descendants of his family, Susan Wall and Antja Van Boerdonk, their children and grandchildren still live in the area.
The Brewery employed a virtual United Nations. Some of the workers that Tim remembers represented Italy, Austria, Latvia, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany and Canada. Last names that come to mind include Cupido, Brunetta, Panuco, Getternig, Reginscus, Johnson, Oberhansley, Wagner, Cudlip, Bishop, Beverage and George Kraus.
Both Diana and I attended and graduated from Central Public School and Sault Collegiate Institute. Dad got me a part-time job working in the Brewery during the summers of 1956-57 along with several of my close high school friends including Jerry LaHaye (now living in Belleville), Juri Wallner (Merrickville, south of Ottawa) and Martin Van Boerdonk (St. Joe’s Is.). We worked in the bottle shop filling cardboard beer cases (24 pk.) with bottles of freshly pasteurized beer that had just gone through the labeler. Also, on Saturdays, we helped deliver beer in cases and draft beer in aluminum and steel barrels to homes (free delivery) and local hotels.
Bagged malt in 75 lb. bags was moved from a railway car and transported to the brewhouse by hand. I remember my first pay to be $1.25 per hour.
In 1960 Dad accepted a job offer from a larger brewery located in Latrobe Pennsylvania and the family moved to the U.S.A. I stayed behind and attended the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, graduating in Wildlife and Fisheries Management in 1964. I subsequently accepted a position as District Biologist with Lands & Forests in Port Arthur. I’m still living in the now Thunder Bay area. My sister Diana and youngest brother Michael both settled in Oregon, U.S.A. and John, our other brother lives in Carp near Ottawa. The Sault influenced all our formative years a lot.
Dad worked for the Latrobe Brewing Company 1960-76 as Master Brewer and Technical Director brewing Rolling Rock Premium Lager Beer which is still being produced. In 1972, Hank assumed the role of National President of the Master Brewers Association of America for a one year term. The MBAA is the governing body for the brewing industry in the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico and South America.
After retiring in 1976, Hank volunteered his long brewing expertise under the “People to Peoples Program” developed by President Eisenhower. He travelled to Argentina, Peru and twice to China leading a Brewing Delegation in 1989 and 1990 at 79 and 80 years of age respectively. Dad passed away in 1996 at 85 years of age having had a rich and productive life; 17 years of which was spent in the Sault.
When one thinks back, the Brewery which lured Dad to the Sault in 1943 profoundly influenced our lives by establishing our residency, education, social bonds and “love of the outdoors” that persevere to this day.
Ein “Prosit” to our Dad, “Hank,” proud to have been a “Northerner.”
(Published in Townies magazine Volume 3 Number 6)