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Memorable Manitobans: Celestin “Whisky” Thomas (1837-1927)


Born at Biamont, Lorraine, France on 29 March 1837, he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana with his wife, baby son, and parents. Not liking the conditions there, they moved to St. Paul, Minnesota then to the Red River Settlement. He farmed for a short time at St. Boniface before moving to Sturgeon Creek, then to a farm between Middlechurch and West Kildonan. He imported beer and whisky from the United States, thereby acquiring the nickname “Whisky” and, in 1862, he established what is believed to be the first brewery in the region, outside the Hudson’s Bay Company. He later moved the brewery to a site in Winnipeg, at what is now the intersection of Broadway and Colony Street. He and wife Sidonie Mager (1836-1917) had three children: a son (?-?), Ernestine Thomas (1863-1947, wife of Victor Mager), and Victorine Thomas (1867-1949, wife of Emile Joyal). He died at his St. Boniface home, 509 Ritchot Street, on 27 January 1927.


1881 Canada census, Ancestry.

Death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Resident here for 68 years dies, aged 90,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 January 1927, page 7.

A List of Manitoba Breweries and Their Locations by Norm Gorman, 1980, pages 7-8.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 August 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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