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The Horse & Buggy Era (1880-1900)

The Daly Tea Company of Napanee

Daly Tea Display

Packaged Tea, the Daly Tea Company, Napanee

The story of The Daly Tea Company begins when Denis Daly and Maria Aldworth Daly immigrated to Canada from Ireland in about 1840, settling near Picton in Prince Edward County to raise their four sons, Edward, Charles, Denis, and George, and their daughter Eliza. Denis Daly Sr., had been a cotton manufacturer in Dublin, Ireland. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

According to oral tradition, the family entered the tea trade about 1851 as a way of supplementing their income. After a long day selling his produce at the market in Montreal, before beginning the long return trip, Denis Daly Sr. would take advantage of his empty wagon, and buy chests of fresh tea to sell to area farmers when he returned home. In one of his letters to Eliza, Denis wrote "I bought 60 chests of excellent fresh tea. It is cordial to drink it."

In 1855, Denis Daly Sr. passed away. In 1857, his son Charles acquired land just west of Napanee on the Deseronto Road, part of which was deeded to Edward in 1860. The other brothers, George and Denis, acquired a lot nearby. The 1871 census listed Edward and Charles Daly as farmers and traders, and George and Denis as farmers.

By 1871, Edward and Denis Daly established an importing business in Napanee. After Charles died in 1872, and George in 1876, Denis and Edward continued in the tea trade, and expanded their operations. Edward and Denis Daly's tea merchant business was on the corner of John and Market Square. By 1879, Denis is listed as a tea merchant in Napanee Assessment Rolls. The 1882 Business and Professional Directory of Ontario reads, "Daly D. & E. (Denis and Ed.), grocers and wholesale tea merchants, cor John and Market sq."

From 1889-1895, E. Daly and Company Teas is also listed in Napanee. His partners were Alexander Wilkinson Grange, George S. Grange and Fred W. Daly. In the 1890s, Edward Daly moved to London Ontario to establish E. Daly and Company Teas.

When the partnership was dissolved, the Napanee Company was taken over by Denis Daly. At this time, Herbert Daly, William A Daly and, John Geale Daly were taken into the business. Some years later, the three brothers purchased it. To meet demand, The Daly Tea Company was moved to a larger warehouse on Dundas Street in 1921. An archival photograph shows the interior of the Daly Tea Company's Offices during this time.

The Daly's imported green teas from Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka) and a variety of black teas, such as Pekoe Black Tea, from India by way of Montreal. Tea arrived by rail in 40, 60, and 576 lb cartons, and could be mixed into various blends and resold in 1/4 lb., 1/2 lb. and 1 lb packages. It was also available directly to grocers in 30 lb cartons. The tea was tasted using tea tasting wares for quality before being packaged and distributed to customers. Daly cartons depicted deep red hibiscus flower patterns. Tea was kept in a warehouse and horse teams were used to distribute the tea locally. At the height of their demand, the Daly's maintained at least six horse and wagon teams.

The Daly Tea Company prided itself on meeting the high quality standards, and their ability to meet the unique taste of each individual customer. Advertisements proclaimed, "Drink a cup of Good Tea. Nothing adds so much to the comforts of the home, and the cost is very little." Signs hung in businesses announced the availability of Daly's Tea.

Sales regions were expanded to include larger portions of Ontario and western Canada. They also began selling coffee, imported from Chase and Sanborn. However, by the 1930s, the company faced stiff competition from standardized blends of pre-packed teas mass marketed from larger business. The disruption of shipping lanes during World War II complicated matters further, limiting supplies, and rationing limited the spending power of consumers.

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