Atlantic Brewery

This page is from a heritage partnered project. It was written in 1998 by students from Stephenville Integrated High School and edited by their teachers. It has not been vetted by the heritage website's academic editor.

When the Air Force withdrew from Stephenville, the Atlantic Brewery was the first new major industry to become established in the town. The Brewery, which opened in 1968, was Newfoundland and Labrador owned and employed approximately 50 people from the Stephenville area. It was outfitted with the most modern brewing equipment. With all of its high tech equipment the brewery cost about $2.5 million to complete. However, within a year the brewery started to have financial problems that eventually forced it to reduce its work force. Eventually the Atlantic Brewery shut down.

In 1970 the provincial government received an offer from Bison Petroleum and Minerals Ltd to revive the brewery. It was subsequently purchased by this company, with $700,000 going to the creditors and $407,000.00 to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador over a 10 year period. Some people questioned this development. If the brewery could be so profitable, then certainly a business purchased so cheaply should not need ten years of bonds to pay back the amount due to the government.

The management of Bison Petroleum thought they could make it a highly profitable enterprise. Production was increased from 200,000 cases to 400,000 cases. Also, an additional $150,000 was invested in the company with hopes of entering the export beer market. This was accomplished by directing the companies export sales to the densely populated northeast section of the United States, a major consumer of Canadian and European beer.

By 1973, the Bison Brewing Company was in decline. The company started laying off workers, and by the end of the year it had stopped operations in Stephenville. This was in part due to a major flood that caused more than $1 million in damages to the facilities. Even though Bison Petroleum was only in Stephenville for three years, those three years had been enough to get the area's economy back up and running. The brewery had given life to the town after the base had closed down. In 1974 Labatt Breweries began operations at the site. This establishment operated until the fall of 1981 when personnel were laid off and the brewery's operations were transferred to St. John's.

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