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1880 Tons of Cow Poop

“In 1837, a year of surplus grain harvests, William Gooderham added a distillery and produced his first whiskey.  As production expanded, so did the company’s wastes. Initially, Gooderham sold the spent grain wash from the distilling process as feed to area farmers. Recognizing the revenue to be gained by recycling these by-products, Gooderham began fattening cattle and hogs in the late 1830s, and by 1841 he had established a large dairy on a nine acre site between Trinity and Cherry Streets, across from the mill.

The distillery’s main concentration of wastes, then, became not grain residue, but hog and cattle manure. The company’s practice of draining these wastes into the adjacent marshlands of Ashbridge’s Bay, at the mouth of the Don, would become the subject of decades of wrangling with the city government and local residents in the 1880s and 90s


Gooderham & Worts Distillery at Front and Trinity Streets, 1858. Note the five cattle sheds on the east side of Trinity Street, opposite the mill buildings. Source: W.S. Boulton and H.C. Boulton, Atlas of the City of Toronto and vicinity, Toronto: J.Ellis, 1858, Special Collections, TRL, Toronto Public Library.

By 1871, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery produced almost half of Ontario’s total spirits and exported whiskey and spirits to markets across Canada, the United States and South America.

Cattle operations also expanded: relocated to vacant land east of the river and south of the GTR line in 1866, by 1880 the Company’s seven cattle sheds could accommodate over four thousand cows. Ingenious in their efficiency, company owners constructed a pipeline alongside the railway track to convey the grain swill from their Trinity Street distillery to the cattle sheds east of the river.”

Excerpt written by Jennifer Bonnell published online by the Don Valley Historical Mapping Project and the University of Toronto Map and Data Library https://maps.library.utoronto.ca/dvhmp/gooderham-dis.html



Detail from “City of Toronto, 1893.” The Gooderham & Worts cattle sheds are immediately east of the bend in the river, north of the marsh. Toronto Public Library, TRL,  Historical Picture Collection, 916-2-1.

“Street sewers constructed in the city largely in the 1870s and 80s carried raw sewage east into the Don and south into the lake, adding to an already dangerous cocktail of contaminants. In addition, increasingly noxious industry came to locate (often relocating from other areas) around the Lower Don in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Examples include oil refineries (among them British American Oil, which established near the mouth of the Don in 1908); abattoirs (such as William Davies Co. Pork Packing Plant, which relocated to Front Street at the Don River in 1879); rendering plants and tanneries. Nuisance and (by the early twentieth century) zoning by-laws played a role here: noxious industries and “hazardous materials” storage were pushed to the edges of the settlement (e.g. lumber, coal, oil, etc that posed a fire hazard). The area around the lower Don had long been used for hazardous materials storage: in the early 1800s a powder magazine on the peninsula near the mouth of Don kept flammable material away from the homes of early Toronto residents. Pollution from industrial effluents remained a serious problem well into the twentieth century.”

Excerpt from Tracing the Social and Environmental History of the Don River, Bonnell, J. (2008). Changing Urban Waterfronts' Seminar Series. Presented at the City of Toronto Archives on April 7, 2008



1880 Tons of Cow Poop

Gooderham began fattening cattle and hogs in the late 1830s, and by 1841 he had established a large dairy on a nine acre site between Trinity and Cherry Streets, across from the mill.


Owner/Sourcehttps://maps.library.utoronto.ca/dvhmp/gooderham-dis.html and Tracing the Social and Environmental History of the Don River, Bonnell, J. (2008)
Linked toThe Distillery

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