In 1858, as Canadians were building a nation, American entrepreneur Hiram Walker crossed the Detroit River into Windsor, Canada to establish what would soon become a whisky empire known around the globe. Along with other astute businessmen like J.P. Wiser, Hiram could see the growing strength of the temperance movement in neighboring Michigan and had the foresight to move his operation to Canada’s more favourable environment.

Hiram Walker was a savvy marketer and his Canadian Club whisky soon became a brand icon that made Canada famous for its whisky on a global scale. In 1883, his efforts were given a boost when the Canadian government passed a law effectively guaranteeing the age of bottled whisky, the first country in the world to do so.

Canadian Club whisky was an ambassador not only for Walkerville but for Canada. Queen Victoria drank Canadian Club at the end of the nineteenth century, as did fictitious British secret agent James Bond, seventy-five years later. At its peak, Canadian Club was among the most recognized products in the world.

From 1920 to 1933, the 13 years of US Prohibition turned sleepy Windsor Essex into a major hub for the acquisition and smuggling of alcohol. It is estimated that as much as 75% of the alcohol consumed in the US during this period was transported on waterways between Windsor and Detroit.

From self-guided architectural tours to walking tours and immersive bus tours, you can travel back in time to this storied era and the people and places that defined it. We invite you to explore how history was made one barrel, bottle and bootlegger at a time.

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