A.O. Wilson’s legacy is 100% Canadian. Founder and namesake A.O. Wilson started the company in 1945, bringing years of experience from the copper metal business to the brewing industry. Under his leadership, the company supplied all major Canadian breweries, as well as many in the U.S. and the U.K. This was at a time when industry mainstays such as the Molson Company and Canadian Breweries Limited were actively expanding across the country.
It was an exciting time to be working in the business. Little over a decade had passed since the end of U.S. prohibition, while in Canada—where prohibition was controlled by the provinces—it had been largely over since the 1920s. Nevertheless, provincial regulations kept the distribution of alcohol tightly regulated by liquor boards and publicly-owned businesses (such as the LCBO and the Beer Store in Ontario). By the 1960s, expansion had reached its limit and the majority of Canadian beer was produced by only a couple of major breweries.