Monday, February 05, 2007

George Conrad Reifel, 1893-1958

When I was staying in Delta, BC (just outside of Vancouver) this xmas with my parents, we stayed at a hotel not far from the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. My suite was called the Reifel suite, and I was interested to read that Mr. Reifel was, in fact, a brewmaster according to a plaque on the wall. Well, sounds like this was the right room for me to be in!
Here is what the plaque read:

The Reifel Story
Born in Nanaimo May 15th, 1893, George Conrad Rifel was the son of Brewmaster, Henry Reifel Senior.

Together the father and son worked in the Union Brewing Company, Nanaimo, B.C. until 1910. The Reifel's moved to Vancouver and built the brewery, which is still in operation, now owned by Carling O'Keefe.

During prohibition, Henry and George C. traveled to Japan to assist in the establishment of the Anglo Japanese Brewing Co., a joint venture of Japanese, British, and Canadian.

Prior to the Japan trip, George C. married Alma Lucy Barnes and they had three children: Audry, George Henry and Alma Jane.

In 1922 the Reifels refurnished and re-opened the Vancouver brewery and the family business diversified with the establishment of the B.C. Distilleries Company in New Westminster.

During the late 1920's, George C. became interested in an area of southwest Delta, then known as Smoky Tom Island. Close to the mouth of the Fraser River, it was a virtual paradise of birds and wildlife.

As a big game enthusiast, George C. traveled extensively throughout British Columbia and the Yukon on hunting trip, often taking son George along. He recognized the island as an ideal retreat for pleasing his hobby of hunting and preserving game birds. George C. realized that with care and management, the area would remain a haven.

In 1927 George C. purchased a large parcel of land and over the next few years he installed dams and dikes where the Fraser River split into three narrow channels. George C. recovered additional land for his retreat forming three sloughs; Robertsons, Fullers and Ewens, that would attract birdlife.

He then proceeded to build the Reifels family home on the property in 1929. The house still stands and the land is called Reifel Island.

The Reifel story continues to grow. George Henry continues to add to the families accomplishments with unfailing enthusiasm for life.

The original sanctuary site, "George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary" was given to the Crown by George H. Reifel in 1973 as a tribute to his father's memory.

So, anyway that was somewhat interesting to me.


Jack said...

Wasn't the Reifel Estate in Delta also used as a base for smuggling booze to the South, during the U.S. "prohibition" ? I seem to recall, the Reifel home on SW Marine and the "retreat" on the Fraser being used as export wharves. Of course, it was only illegal once they crossed the border. But many a fortune was made by the brewers and distillers of the Vancouver area at that time.

headlessbob said...

I don't really know much more than the plaque showed in the room, but that seems like a good way to make money at the time...

Anonymous said...

Hi, I found a cool bottle in the dirt in southern ontario. B.C. Distillery Company embossed words and logo. Very cool and unique among the dozens of bottles we've found. Thanks for writing your blog, interesting info on this company, better than the first 10 or so I checked.

Anonymous said...

wtyI have found embossed Anglo Japanese Brewery bottles on Guam, and Saipan. I once saw a advertisement from the 1920's for the Anglo Japanes Brewery Co. Ltd Tokyo, but am looking for the paper lable that was on the bottle. Anybody know what they looked like? I have Nippon Beer Kosen bottles with lables, Dai Nippon bottle embossed in both English and Japanese(from right to left), and the very old hand blown, wood carved molds Kirin bottles. I also have the embossed bottles of Nono Biki Kosen Jo Seizo Co.Ltd, but no paper lable for this either, but know they had 2 horse shoes on the lable. I also have the hand blown emossed bottles of Kinsen Port, but no lables. Anybody out there can help?

Mark said...

Hi Anonymous I'm Mark on Guam. I also have found Dai Nippon, Kirin, Takara, Kondo, and Anglo bottles. No lables as they don't survive in the jungle! Get in touch. Mark