Aug 30 | Three Times 150: New Brunswick companies mark major anniversary

Three New Brunswick companies happen to be celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2017 along with Canada: Moosehead Breweries, Source Atlantic, and G.E. Barbour. As these long-standing three have grown and evolved over the years, they’ve managed to stay relevant and lucrative at home and, increasingly, abroad.


Fiercely Independent


Moosehead, Canada’s oldest independent brewer, may be the best-known of the three established corporations. The Olands in Saint John has been brewing and distributing their popular beers to be sold in bars and liquor stores across the province for as long as most New Brunswickers can remember — and they’re showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, for their anniversary this year, they released a hyped-up, excitement-inducing video to mark the occasion and to demonstrate their patriotism. Many don’t know this, but the company was founded by a woman, Susannah Oland, and six generations (and two destructive fires) later it’s still privately owned by the Oland family, although their award-winning beers are now enjoyed internationally.


If you’re not sure whether you’ve sampled Moosehead products before, keep in mind that the company also makes Alpine, as well as multiple smaller brands such as Barking Squirrel Lager, Clancy’s Amber Red Ale, Hop City Brewing Co., and Cracked Canoe. My personal standby is Moose Light — it’s the perfect summer classic.


Taking Complexities Out of Supply Chain


The second company marking its 150th birthday is Source Atlantic, which according to their website, is “a leading provider in supply chain management” providing “a complete and single source of distribution in the industrial, government, commercial and residential contractor markets.”


Source Atlantic has come a long way from its roots as a small family-owned retail store, W.H. Thorne – General Hardware Merchants. Nowadays, it’s hard to describe exactly what Source Atlantic does in a single succinct sentence, because with 16 branches across Atlantic Canada, they specialize in a whole host of both products and services. Need some examples? Its wide-ranging divisions cover everything from welding products to plumbing and heating services; from hydraulics to industrial safety apparel.


For more info, check out this video capturing anevent held in Saint John to mark the companies’ shared anniversary.


Merchants of Flavour


The third company with cause for celebration is G.E. Barbour. I recently spoke with the president and CEO, Sylvia MacVey, who enlightened me on the rich history of the family-owned company that focusses on tea, nut butters, spices and flavours.



“We offer specialized food products and development services to commercial customers, as well as owning and marketing the leading tea brand in Atlantic Canada,” she said.


That tea brand — King Cole — is ubiquitous in New Brunswick. I recall my parents and grandparents always having a box in the cupboards for their afternoon tea, and it’s recognized to be the best Orange Pekoe available and, really, the only tea worth drinking.


G.E. Barbour purchased King Cole way back in 1910 — the same year it moved from exclusively importing and distributing into manufacturing as well — and then spread it throughout the region, and more recently into Quebec and Ontario. “The tea is a unique blend of teas from around the world,” said MacVey, “and Atlantic Canadians have appreciated the quality and consistency of their favourite cup of tea over generations.”


MacVey said while the company initially operated in Saint John, N.B., they moved production facilities to Sussex in 1962 and moved the head office in 1971, and they remain committed to Sussex.


Although that local commitment is steadfast, throughout the first half of the 20th century the company established a broad warehouse and distribution network, eventually purchasing different brand companies in the mid-century. In the 1990s, Barbours concentrated on food processing, and “its most recent efforts have been on exporting product produced here to markets throughout North America and Europe,” and some products are even sold in Mexico.


It seems they’ve adapted to the market by offering what the market demands: change, innovation, and above all good taste. “We specialize in natural products, some organics and we offer unique inclusions and food development to suit different markets,” said MacVey. Whether you want kosher products or gluten-free, you can guarantee you’re getting top quality with G.E. Barbour.


I look forward to seeing what the subsequent years look like for these three successful companies. Chances are, if they’ve lasted 150 years, their future is bright.

Shauna Chase

I was raised in Marysville, N.B, and haven’t strayed far from home — or at least, I’ve always returned from my travels, missing New Brunswick. I’m now a freelance writer and editor living and working in downtown Fredericton. I went to St. Thomas University where I majored in English literature and philosophy, and my passion for literature led me to follow up my arts degree by studying Book and Magazine Publishing at Centennial College in Toronto. I adore novels and their authors, and am especially inspired by American and Japanese literature. If I’m not reading, you can find me sampling local craft beer, or out for a run on one of Fredericton’s picturesque trails.

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