Local History Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 9 – Mainland Brewery

It’s back! I has been 3 years since I published my last Local History Advent Calendar! So much has happened since that last time—including the publication of my first book, Mount Pleasant Stories—that I figured it was about time to dust off the Local History Advent Calendar once again. Similar to a regular advent calendar but instead of chocolate treats, each day you “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder– 24 facts or stories about local history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

1897 (updated 1901) Fire Insurance Plan showing the former Mainland Brewery Building on the NW corner 10th & Columbia Notice a partial view of the stream that once flowed beside the brewery.

If you read Mount Pleasant Stories, you are familiar with the breweries that developed along Mount Pleasant’s Brewery Creek. However, Brewery Creek wasn’t the only stream that supported the area’s early brewing industry. Introducing: Mainland Brewery, established along an unnamed creek at the corner of W. 10th and Columbia. If you look at the site today (now a church), you can still see the way the land slopes indicating that a creek once flowed there.

Robert Riesterer opened Mainland Brewery on this corner sometime in late 1888. A December 31, 1888 Vancouver Daily World newspaper story about buildings built in Vancouver that year lists “Mr. Riesterer’s brewery and vinegar factory, $4500” on 10th Avenue.  However, earlier City Directory listings indicate that Riesterer’s Mainland Brewery got it’s start somewhere along False Creek (most likely the south side) as early as 1887.

Daily News Advertiser, Nov. 27, 1891.

The 1891 Canada Census shows Robert Riesterer, proprietor and brewer along with C. Riesterer, brewer living beside the brewery at, what was then, 2475 Columbia Ave. Later that year, Robert Riesterer (41) marries Clara Steinhauser (21). They had 3 children: Charles born in Vancouver 1892, Robert born in 1894 in Nelson, and Clara also born in Nelson in 1897. Sadly, Mrs. Clara Riesterer dies at the age of 27 shortly after giving birth to her daughter.

Vancouver Daily World, July 8, 1890. Advert shows that Riesterer wanted let out his Mainland Brewery business.

Though there were indications (see above) that Riesterer wanted to move on from Mainland Brewery to new adventures in the Kootenays, City Directory listings indicate that Riesterer and Mainland Brewery were still in Vancouver until 1893.

Riesterer eventually started a new brewery business in Nelson, founding the original Nelson Brewing and Ice Company in 1897. His involvement in this business was fairly short-lived as he died in October 1902.

Nelson Daily News Oct. 15, 1902

You can find more Mount Pleasant stories in my walking tour book, Mount Pleasant Stories. Copies are available for purchase in Mount Pleasant at Pulpfiction Books – 2422 Main Street and in Chinatown at Massy Books – 229 E Georgia St. It makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for your favourite local history buff!


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