The founder of the Alexander Keith brewery.
Alexander Keith was born on October 5, 1795 in Caithness-shire Scotland to Donald Keith and Christina Brims. At the age of 17 his father sent him to an uncle in northern England to learn the brewing business. Five years later in 1817 he immigrated to Canada and became the sole brewer and business partner for Charles Boggs. In 1820 he bought out Boggs' brewery and moved the operation to its final location, a three storey building on Hollis Street at Lower Water in the downtown area of Halifax. Some of his early products included ale, porter, ginger wine, table and spruce beers.
Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Brewery
During his lifetime Alexander Keith was very active in the business community of Halifax Nova Scotia. In 1837 he was appointed as a director of the Bank of Nova Scotia and a director, at various times, of the Halifax Fire Insurance Company. He helped found the Halifax Marine Insurance Association in 1837 and in 1840 he was on the board of management of the Colonial Life Assurance Company. He was a director of the Halifax Gas, Light and Water Company in 1840 and helped to incorporate the Halifax Water Company in 1844.
Alexander Keith served as Mayor of Halifax in 1843 and again from 1853 to 1854 and as a Conservative he was the president of the Legislative Council, Provincial Parliament, from 1867 to his death in 1873. He was also the Provincial Grand Master for the Maritimes under the English authority in 1840 and under the Scottish Lodge in 1845. When the reorganization of the various divisions took place in 1869 he became the Grand Master of Nova Scotia.
The brewery that bears his name is one of the oldest commercial breweries in North America. The oldest surviving brewing enterprise in Canada was established by John Molson in Montreal in 1786 while the oldest in the U.S. is Yuengling which was originally called Eagle Brewing and was founded in 1829 in Potsville P.A. Keith's was sold to Oland Breweries in 1928 and to Labatt in 1971. Today the brewery is under the control of this subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev which took the brand national in the 1990's. In April 2011, Anheuser-Busch InBev began selling Alexander Keith's beer in the United States after nearly two centuries of being available only in Canada.
Alexander Keith's Tasting Room
Alexander Keith died in Halifax on December 14, 1873 and is buried at Camp Hill Cemetery at the corner of Spring Garden Road and Robie Streets. It is said that his birthday, October 5th, is often marked by people visiting his grave and placing beer bottles and caps on it.