Canada’s first refinery was established in 1818, half a century before confederation in Halifax. Until then, Canada had been dependent on imports of poor-quality raw sugar or expensive refined sugar. As the population increased, so did the demand for a steady supply of low cost refined sugar for both consumers and the emerging industries that needed sugar to make their food products. While attempts to sustain refining operations in Nova Scotia proved unsuccessful, the demand for a home industry continued to grow. In 1854, a refinery was established in Montreal, taking advantage of the city's deep port to receive raw cane sugar shipments from the Caribbean. A second refinery was built in Montreal in 1879.
The arrival of the Canadian Pacific railroad on the west coast opened new opportunities for the industry. In 1890, a refinery was established in Vancouver, ideally located to receive shipments of raw cane sugar from Pacific regions and to access Canada's rapidly developing western markets.
Around the same time, the first attempts were made to establish a sugar beet industry in Canada. Sugar beets were later grown successfully in Ontario and Quebec for many years, however, the Prairie Provinces proved to be most ideally situated, inland from cane refineries, providing the economic stimulus for a viable beet sugar industry.
In 1912, a group of Montreal businessmen built a cane refinery on Canada's east coast in Saint John, New Brunswick. Later, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway led to the establishment of a cane refinery in Toronto, the doorstep to a rapidly growing consumer and industrial market. From its earliest roots, the Canadian sugar industry has honoured its commitment to quality and low prices - a commitment that continues to benefit all Canadians today.
Canada's Sugar Companies
Currently, there are three cane sugar refineries and one sugar beet factory in Canada. The cane refineries are located in Vancouver (Rogers Sugar), Toronto (Redpath Sugar Ltd) and Montréal (Lantic Inc). The sugar beet factory (Rogers Sugar) is located in Taber, Alberta.
For company contact information and locations, click here.
has its roots with the Acadia Sugar Refining Co., a Scottish incorporation, originally formed from a consolidation of three refinery operations in Nova Scotia and succeeded in 1912 by Atlantic Sugar Refineries when it built a cane sugar refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. St. Lawrence Sugar's original cane refinery was built on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in 1888. Over the years, the building and processing facilities were frequently upgraded. In 1981, Lantic Sugar began a program of diversification and rationalization that concluded with the purchase of St. Lawrence Sugar in Montreal in 1984. In 2000, Lantic consolidated its refining operations in Montreal and closed the St. John plant. At the same time, the company reinvested in the Montreal facility with an expansion and upgrade that doubled plant capacity; the Montreal refinery continues to serve the central and eastern Canadian markets today.
Redpath Sugar Ltd
began as The Canada Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. in Montreal, in 1854. The company was the brainchild of John Redpath, an enterprising Scotsman who had seen an opportunity for Canada to produce its own refined sugar. In 1930, the company merged with The Dominion Sugar Company of Chatham, Ontario with plants in Wallaceburg and Chatham, concentrating on the production of beet sugar. Then, in 1959, the renamed Redpath Sugar Ltd. opened its landmark refinery on the Toronto waterfront, which is still in operation today. By 1980, all production of sugar had been consolidated to the Toronto refinery. In 1998, Redpath completed a major expansion and modernization of this operation.
was established in 1890 by the entrepreneurial B. T. Rogers. Recognizing the high cost of transporting refined sugar by rail from Montreal to Vancouver, Rogers seized the opportunity for the west coast to refine its own sugar. Vancouver was strategically located to access raw sugar shipments from Pacific origins and send refined sugar to Canada's western population centres. Rogers' refinery was Vancouver's first major industry not based on logging or fishing.
Rogers' involvement in the beet sugar industry dates back to the 1930's with factories at Raymond and Picture Butte in Alberta. Rogers' Winnipeg plant operated from 1940, but was closed in 1997 as a result of severely restricted access to the US market. Today's remaining operation is in Taber, Alberta, built in 1950. The plant expansion program was completed in 1999, increasing its capacity by 50%.