Susanna McLeod

Susanna McLeod

Glimpses of Canadian History : Email:

Soup’s On! The Campbell Company of Canada

The Canadian Division of the Campbell Soup Company Organized in 1931

Since the 1800s, soup has been good business for the American food company, Campbell’s Soup. Opening a division in Canada was a natural step forward.

Part of a small canning factory that opened in New Jersey in the 1860s, chemist Dr. John Dorrance of the Joseph Campbell Company developed delicious recipes for condensed soups in 1897. The first soup offerings included Vegetable, Consomme, Tomato, Chicken and … Oxtail. Business flourished for the food company’s tasty soups and they won the Gold Medallion for Excellence at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. In 1922, the Joseph Campbell Company incorporated, changing the name to the Campbell Soup Company.

Campbell Company in New Toronto

The time came for expansion. Organization for the Campbell Company of Canada began in 1930, along with a British version at the same time called Campbell’s Soups Limited. The Canadian factory opened its doors in New Toronto, now Etobicoke, in 1931. They “literally fired up the kettles!” said Campbell’s Canada, and the soup was on. “Help Wanted” signs were scattered across the vicinity, including “notices written with chalk on the sidewalks of Lakeshore Boulevard.” A second plant was opened in Listowel, Ontario in 1960 to produce frozen Campbell products.

Campbell Purchased Habitant

Campbell Company of Canada now manufactures a variety of food items, from Prego sauces, V8 Juices, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers to Gardennay Soup, Campbell’s Chili and Chunky Soup. The Campbell firm purchased the Canadian soup brand of Habitant in 1989. Habitant began producing food for hungry Canadians in 1918 and is recognized for its delicious and unique French-Canadian Pea Soup. Sold and resold several times before Campbell bought the company, the slogan “Homemade Tradition since 1918” remains on the Habitant soup can label.

Campbell Kids

The Campbell Kids were already a well-loved phenomenon by the time Campbell Soup Company of Canada opened. Artist Grace Gebbie Wiederseim Drayton created the adorable chubby-faced boy and girl characters in 1905, and immediately they became famous spokes-kids for the international soup company. Their images are updated and used still today.

A Slurp of Soup Trivia:

  • The wheeled can-opener similar to what is sold today was available in 1928.
  • The famous Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Cream of Mushroom Soup were added to the line-up in 1934.
  • Oxtail Soup is still available for purchase.
  • Campbell’s distinctive red-and-white soup cans were designed about 1899. The labels were memorialized as art by Andy Warhol in 1962.
  • The M’m, M’m, Good! slogan was devised in the 1930s as part of a radio jingle for Campbell Soup.

The Campbell Company of Canada has a history of giving back to its customers. They help with the funding of essential programs such as the Labels for Education, Kids’ Help Phone and aiding the Canadian Association of Food Banks. “We give back to our communities,” notes the Canadian site, “with a clear purpose to provide nourishment and support for the health and well being of Canadians.”

And may that wonderful tradition continue.


Campbell’s Company of Canada

Biography of Grace Gebbie Wiederseim Drayton

This Canadian History article first appeared on           ©  Susanna McLeod

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