Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Gillett Royal Yeast Cakes


Perusing a local flea market, I ran across this display box of yeast cakes, fortunately the boxes were empty. I was trying to visualize what 60plus year old yeast might look like. Once again a name I'd never heard of but this was a company with a large presence in the kitchens of the past.There is a even a modern reprint of the Royal Yeast bake book.

The E. W. Gillett Company, Ltd. was founded in 1852 by P. W. Gillett in Toronto, Ontario. The factory, located in downtown Toronto made Royal Yeast Cakes, Magic Baking Powder and perfumed lye and other baking related products. Below, the E.W. Gillett Co. Ltd. building in 1898.

Urban Toronto

Toronto, Canada: The Book of its Board of Trade, 1897-98, page 133, City of Toronto Archives.

 The building was destroyed in the great Toronto fire of 1904 and the company took out the following ad in The Globe newspaper on April 12 1904;
 "Our entire plant (building and machinery) was totally consumed by the awful conflagration which swept part of Toronto on Tuesday night, April 19th, and we must therefore ask your indulgence for a few weeks. Fortunately we have a duplicate set of machinery stored safely in another building, and this will enable us to turn out goods within a reasonable time. Every Wholesale Grocer in the Dominon has a stock of ROYAL YEAST, GILLETT'S LYE, MAGIC BAKING POWDER, Etc., so we are hoping, by the careful use of goods now in their hands, that no one will be inconvenienced. 'Gillett's Goods Are the Best,' and will be more popular than ever."

The company moved out of downtown in 1912 to a much larger factory located, I believe at King and Dufferin Streets (below). Seems like the management was ahead of their time, they also provided up-to-date dining and shower facilities, on-site barber shop, tennis courts and bowling greens on the factory lawns for their employees.
In 1929, the brand was merged with other companies to form Standard Brands, Inc.

1 comment:

rats said...

Perfumed lye -- for soap, do you suppose? Did homemakers of the middle 19th c. buy scented lye and make their soap at home, using their own fat? ... I mean: using locally available fat, not their own personal fat.

Thank you, Mr. G, for the nice find and research work.