In 1901, a small operation started in Lethbridge. This business had a dramatic effect on Lethbridge for it was the beginning of the Sick beer empire.
Fritz Sick started the Alberta Brewing & Malting Co, basically running a one-man show, doing the work of brewer, maltster, cooper, salesman and office manager. He was eventually able to hire one person to help him in the brewery and another to deliver the product to customers around Lethbridge. It grew from there.
The first major expansion of the brewery was in 1913; other renovations and additions followed over the years. After prohibition ended, Sick started to acquire and build new breweries. With various breweries, the firm was renamed the Associated Breweries of Canada Ltd. All of the breweries were named “Sick’s” and then identified by their community.
By 1930, Fritz Sick was ready to retire and he turned over operations of Sick’s Lethbridge Brewery to his son Emil. Fritz Sick moved to Vancouver but retirement appears not to have suited him. In 1934, Fritz Sick started the Vancouver Capilano Brewery. In 1935, he moved to Tacoma and lived there until his death in 1945.
In 1933, the year American prohibition ended, Emil Sick moved to Seattle. Once there, he invested in breweries in Missoula, Great Falls and Spokane. In 1935 Sick rented, and then purchased, the Century Brewery in Seattle, which he soon modernized. Shortly afterwards, this brewery was merged with the Rainier Brewery.
In 1944, Associated Breweries of Canada Ltd changed its name to Sick’s Breweries Ltd, with at least 10,000 shareholders. The end of the Sick management of the brewery came in 1958 when control of Sick’s was acquired by Molson’s Brewery. The brewery operated under Molson until 1990 and the building was demolished in 1991.
Wednesday at the Galt on Wed NOV 15 from 2–3 pm will present Belinda Crowson. Come and discover more of the Sick history of Lethbridge.