Once upon a time…
We are a group of old friends who had worked together for many years. One afternoon we were having a beer in a brew pub and were tired from a hard day’s work…no really! We looked around and saw the fun and enjoyment that the brew-pub patrons were experiencing and, frankly, the beer was great too. One of the guys said, “…you know, we could do this!” And so it began.
After several months of market research, beer tasting, financial assessments, brewpub visiting and several bottles of Aspirin, we decided that we could make a go of it…but what to call the brewery? In looking for a name, and since the beer would be craft brewed and local, we decided that we needed to find a name that represented the local region and was easily recognizable. One day one of the guys walked in and presented a picture of a pig…well, not really a pig, more like a picture of a prize-winning hog. We all agreed that no matter what we called the brewery, we had to have the hog. In a stroke of genius…no really, it happens when you’re drinking beer…someone said “…how about Hogsback?” So began the HogsBack Brewing Company. But there’s more to the story…
After liking this name, we looked back in Ottawa’s history for where it came from. All the way back, in fact, to Philemon Wright, who is credited as being the first permanent settler in the Ottawa area (I know, we all said, “who would name their kid Philemon” …but keep reading, it’s a good story). Within a few years of his arrival in 1800, the new settlement apparently had mills to make flour, cut lumber, process hemp and make potash. Philemon would later branch into mining and cement-making and become a justice of the peace, a road builder and a hotelier. Philemon was quite the entrepreneur.
Continuing the history lesson, the name “Hog’s Back” was first coined to describe a section of the Rideau River where a ridge of limestone was cresting the river, looking like the backbone of a hog. This area of the river became a critical location in the building of the Rideau Canal for canal builder Colonel John By, who identified in 1827 the need to build a large dam to raise the river water and create what is now Mooney’s Bay. The main story at Hog’s Back became the building of the dam, and the contract to build this dam was awarded to, who else, Philemon Wright and Sons, by now lumber barons. Building the dam at Hog’s Back was a tremendous engineering challenge, which was critical to the completion of the Rideau Canal and resulted in what is now Hog’s Back Falls.
So, just what is the beer connection to Hog’s Back Falls and Philemon Wright? Well, we have it on very good authority that when kicking back after a long day building dams at Hog’s Back Falls, Philemon enjoyed a good beer, having also established the very first brewery in the Ottawa Valley. It is also reputed that he sold hops to a young John Molson back in the day…now there’s a connection to beer!
The HogsBack Brewing Company salutes the entrepreneurship of Philemon Wright and the challenges he overcame. We plan to embody that spirit as we launch our own brewing establishment to bring back a traditional approach to hand-crafted beer in the Ottawa Valley. The HogsBack Brewing Company offers a traditionally brewed craft beer alternative to the standard industrial beer from who knows where. And, most importantly, the HogsBack Brewing Company is owned and operated by four local guys – Frank, Jerry, Mark and Paige, with a goal to provide the finest-flavoured beer using all-natural ingredients and traditional small-batch brewing. Give us a try and let us know what you think.