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Buildings that weren’t: Fritz-Steiner Brewery, 1912

The Nelson Daily News of Nov. 2, 1912 announced a new brewery would be built in Nelson’s Fairview neighbourhood between Nelson Avenue and 2nd Street, north of Kokanee Avenue (then called Kootenay Avenue) and reproduced the concept drawing seen below.

The plant was to be built by the Fritz-Steiner Brewing & Malting Co. at an estimated cost of $40,000 to $50,000 ($891,000 to $1.1 million today).

Local merchant A.S. Horswill was president of the company, which was capitalized at $100,000 in shares of $25 each. Hotelier H.H. Pitts was vice-president, W.E. Ketchum secretary-treasurer, and H.A. Douglas and Dr. W.H. Willson were directors. Fritz Steiner was to be brewmaster and superintendent while T.A. Robley of the BC United Agencies was appointed financial agent.

They chose their site because it lied adjacent to the railway tracks. The proposed building was to be built of brick and concrete.

The main front, on Nelson Avenue, will be taken up by the brew house, 27 feet square and three storeys high, occupying the northeast corner, and by the cellars, 33 feet wide, 50 feet deep, with a height of three storeys, one of which will be below ground. On the north side of the building adjoining the brew house and fronting the switch track will be the engine room and boiler room, one storey high. The remainder of the main building will be occupied by bottling and shipping departments of ample capacity. A department entirely separate from the main plant will be equipped for the manufacture in the English style of ales and porters.

The story added that the brew kettle would have a capacity of 75 barrels per brew and the total capacity of the storage cellar would be about 4,000 barrels.

Nothing came of the plan, though had it, the company’s German name would have become an issue for its directors during World War I. The Fritz Steiner Co. was last listed in the Mercantile Agency reference book in 1914. It was struck from the corporate register in 1919.

Touchstones Nelson has an unused shareholder’s receipt, which lists H.E. Douglas as the provisional secretary.

Eventually the brewery property became home to Lakeside Bungalow Court, which I recently wrote about.

I was curious about Fritz Steiner, the company’s namesake, who I had never heard of.

Christian Friedrich Steiner was born in Lorch, Württemberg, Germany to Johannes Steiner and Marie Beëhler in March 1872. He became a naturalized US citizen at San Luis Obispo, Calif. in 1894.

On Dec. 3, 1910, at age 38, he married Elise Ringwald, 20, at St. Paul’s Manse in Nelson. Elise was born in Güttikeim, Baden, Germany (a place I can’t find on any map) to Anton Ringwald and Sybilla Frei. The witnesses at the wedding were Mary Houlahan and Annie Cockbairn. Fritz and Elise had a son, Frederick Carl, in 1911.

In 1913, Fred Steiner was listed in the civic directory as a brewer, living on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Behnsen Street, close to the proposed brewery site. His wife’s name was listed as Alice. In 1914 and 1915, he was also listed as a brewer, but had moved to Chatham Street. His wife’s name was listed as Eliese.

The Cranbrook Herald of Aug. 31, 1916 reported: “Fritz Steiner of Nelson passed through Elko this week for Roosville visiting his wife and family who are visiting relatives down there.”

According to an online family tree, Fritz died at Great Falls, Montana in 1917, age 45, but I don’t know the circumstances. Elise/Alice then married Charles M. Walde in Nelson on June 4, 1921. At the time she was living in Fernie and working as a housekeeper.

Frederick Carl Steiner married Mary Josephine Hinde in Nelson on Feb. 3, 1938. They had two children, including Frederick Thomas, born in Nelson in 1940. Frederick Sr. died in Fort Macleod in 1958, age 47. His mother Alice died in 1968, also in Fort Macleod, age 78. Frederick Sr.’s wife Mary died in Calgary in 1996.

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