Time in a bottle

Labatt gift digitizes their corporate history for the world to explore

One of the world’s most significant corporate archival collections is now among the most accessible and dynamic, thanks to a generous gift-in-kind from an iconic Canadian business.

The Labatt Brewing Company generously donated its archives – thousands of documents and artifacts that filled more than 2,600 boxes — to Western in 2011. The archive, which includes the Labatt Material Culture Collection at Museum London, is considered one of the top three collections in the world. It was valued at $8.3 million when donated in 2011.

Labatt augmented the in-kind gift with a significant financial donation to digitize the material. The digitization collection now offers greater access and new glimpses into 170 years of history in Canada.

labatt archive

Kelly Cole, Vice-President (External) at Western, said the collection showcases how Western can add to valuable corporate archives. “Gifts in kind, such as the one Labatt has made, are an important way corporations and individuals can support Western and contribute in a significant way to global knowledge and research,” she said.

A glance at the archive

Labatt workers

Bottling Cellar Employees, c. 1920

Labatt workers

Labatt Workers, c. 1880

The virtual exhibit (labattheritage.lib.uwo.ca) offers researchers and the public a rich new opportunity to learn about Canada, London and an iconic brewing legacy through the unique lens of Labatt’s archives. The project came to fruition as Labatt celebrated its 170th anniversary in 2017.

Offering hundreds of digitized images, audio interviews and radio and TV ads, the project also offers expert insights from renowned Canadian historians. The collection represents key items of the larger Labatt Brewing Company Archival Collection, housed at Western.