|J. S. HAMILTON PELEE ISLAND JUG
HISTORY OF VIN VILLA: I am just building this website. Over the next few months I will
detail the history of Canada's first winery. Also; I'll add pictures of early bottles and crockery wine jugs that held the
great wines produced on Pelee Island.
|PELEE ISLAND ST. AUGUSTINE COMMUNION WINE
St. Augustine communion wine was the most popular and biggest selling communion wine in Canada near
the end of the 19th century.
HISTORY OF VIN VILLA: One
of the major areas of importance in the grape and wine industry of the County of Essex was Pelee Island as this is where the
industry had its beginnings.
growing was very successful on Kellys Island and other Bass lslands to the south of Pelee Island. A good boat service
connected these islands with the American mainland and so they enjoyed an influx of tourists. Wine cellars, hotels and stores
did a good business. It would seem that Captain David McCormick of Pelee Island had been watching the growing business
of the American Islands and perhaps would have encouraged the development of the grape industry earlier but for a land problem.
Property ownership on Pelee Island for many years was in dispute and land did not change hands because of the death
of its owner Wm. McCormick. It was 27 years after McCormick's passing before his will was complied with and title perfected. The
very first land to be sold after the settlement was in 1865 to Thaddeus Smith, J. D. Williams and Thos. S. Williams. These
men were from Kentucky, although Mr. J. D. Williams resided in Windsor and had been encouraged by Captain McCormick to invest
in land on the Island. In 1866, twenty-five acres of grapes were planted. This extended to thirty-three acres in the
course of three years.
It would seem obvious that the reason for growing the grapes on Pelee Island was to
make wine and so the Williams and Smith built a large wine cellar and installed a press. The place called "Vin Villa
Vineyards", The first crop of grapes was to be harvested in 1868. The wines were to find markets in much of
Canada as well as in the U.S.A.
A major factor in the location of the grape industry on Pelee Island and
its subsequent spread to the mainland was the influence of the nearby American Islands on which grapes grew well.
The observations by Pelee Island owners that the islands to the south were doing a good business with wines must have had
some impact on Captain McCormick to seek out and encourage J. D. Williams to invest in the grape and wine industry on Pelee.
J. S. HAMILTON
& VIN VILLA:
J. S. Hamilton and Company
Joshua S. Hamilton started a grocery
and liquor business in 1871. A couple of years later R. S. Dunlop became a partner with him in Hamilton, Dunlop and Company,
a wholesale wine and liquor business located on Colborne Street. After R. S. Dunlop retired in 1877 the name was changed to
J. S. Hamilton and Company. Mr. Hamilton started advertising Pelee wines after became associated with Thaddeus Smith of the
Vin Villa Vineyards located on Pelee Island. This led to the establishment of the Pelee Island Wine and Vineyards Company
with J. S. Hamilton as president and managing director. One of the company’s most well-known products was St. Augustine
Communion Wine, purchased by churches in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. Needing more space the company moved
to larger premises at 91-93-95 Dalhousie Street. In 1913 J. S. Hamilton bought the property adjoining the fire hall on Dalhousie
Street and built a large warehouse. The Pelee Island Wine and Vineyards Company amalgamated with J. S. Hamilton and Company
in 1919 to become J. S. Hamilton and Company Limited with Mr. Hamilton as president and managing director. J. S. Hamilton
died in March 1931 but the business continued under his name until 1945 when London Winery Ltd. acquired the company.
Here I might add an entry whenever I make an update to my web site. Where appropriate, I'll include a link to the
|CIRCA 1880 VIN VILLA FERMENTED GRAPE JUICE BOTTLE