Toronto is a food and beverage manufacturing metropolis with a long history of producing food and drink for its own citizens and for national and international consumers.

Starting with the rise of small, storefront establishments in the 1830s, food and drink manufacturing has shaped the city’s physical and economic landscape. As the city grew, so too did the industry, producing increasingly large volumes of consumable goods, constructing substantial factories, and employing thousands of men and women. By the middle of the 20th century the food and beverage sector had evolved into a collection of large-scale production facilities and multinational corporations making internationally recognized brands.

Photograph of chocolate factory employee
Employee decorating chocolates at Laura Secord’s Bathurst Street factory
November 4, 1954
Photographer: Gilbert A. Milne
City of Toronto Archives
Series 975, File 4246, Item 1
Photograph of advertising billboard
Christie’s Premium Soda Crackers
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1230, Item 7065

The post-war period has seen industry consolidation, global competition, technological innovation, and the growth of specialty food markets. In response to these changes, the city’s food and beverage manufacturing landscape has continued to evolve, and in some ways has come full circle. As of 2014, locally owned establishments with less than 100 employees accounted for over 90% of all businesses in this sector.

This exhibit provides an overview of some of the companies that laid the groundwork for today’s generation of food and beverage manufacturers, influencing not only the development of the industry but also the very fabric of our city.

Baked Goods

The manufacture of bread and biscuits in the city.


Productions, supply and safety of dairy produce within Toronto.


The processing and supply of meat products.

Pantry Items

The manufacture and supply of goods, including baking powder, coffee, spices and preserves.


Neilson's , Laura Secord, Willards and chocolate production in Toronto.

Whisky and Beer

Distilling and brewing in Toronto.