Sitting on the Canadian shore of the Detroit River, this stately manor was once the head-quarters to one of Canada’s most recognized business empires. It stands as a monument not only to Hiram Walker and Canadian Club’s legacy, but to the foundation of Walkerville.

Building as Branding

A symbol of the powerful business empire established by distillery magnate Hiram Walker – founder of today’s ubiquitous Canadian Club Whisky –  the Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd Main Office Building was meant to reflect the opulence and prosperity of the firm. Its design was modelled after the Pan-dolfini Palace in Florence, and it is considered among the finest examples of the application of Italian Renaissance architectural principles and architectural vocabulary in a North American context. Long narrow roman bricks, finely crafted brass and meticulously crafted terra cotta ornament give this office a palatial feel.

A Business and Then a Town

Once the headquarters of the business empire, the office sits along the Detroit River directly adjacent to the former distillery operations, and within the town of Walkerville – a “company town” founded in 1858 by Hiram Walker to serve as the centre of his company. Its location is a reminder of the cen-tral role that Prohibition in the United States played in the prosperity of Walker & Sons, enabling Walkerville to grow from a business into a town.

Heritage at Risk

In February 2017, Beam Suntory – the multinational company that now produces Canadian Club – an-nounced its plans to close the centre. Public tours ended in March and the last weddings are sched-uled to happen in December of this year. In response, politicians and community groups have rallied to keep the building alive – trying to find new opportunities to keep the heritage centre active and connected to the history of Canadian Club and Walkerville.

This post forms part of our World Architecture Day Queen’s Park Picks 2017 series in which we asked Ontario’s Members of Provincial Parliament to nominate a prominent building, past or present, in their riding for a chance to learn more about it. Check out the rest of the series to learn more about Ontario’s great architecture.


//Historic Places, Hiram Walker and Sons Limited Main Office Building, Accessed September 2017

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