ManufacturerImperial Tobacco Canada

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Canada's major tobacco company with more than two thirds of the domestic tailor-made cigarette market.

The name Imperial Tobacco Co. of Canada first appeared on Montréal’s St. Antoine Street on June 11, 1908, when the then new company was established. It acquired the business of American Tobacco Co. of Canada Ltd. and all of its holdings. These holdings included D. Ritchie and Co. and the American Cigarette Co., the two Canadian firms at the very origin of Imperial Tobacco Canada.

For over 80 years, Imperial Tobacco Canada has been Canada’s largest tobacco company. With its head office in Montréal, the company operates a manufacturing plant in Guelph, Ontario, and a tobacco processing facility in Aylmer, Ontario. Our sales offices are located in major Canadian cities.

The beginning

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, D. Ritchie and Co. operated a tobacco manufacturing business on Dalhousie Street in Montréal. One of its brands was Old Chum. This firm was also one of the pioneers in the cigarette industry, manufacturing Derby cigarettes.

At about the same time, again in Montréal, the American Cigarette Co. began to manufacture cigarettes on Côté Street. In 1895, the American Tobacco Co. – an American company – acquired both the American Cigarette Co. and D. Ritchie and Co.

Shortly thereafter, the American Tobacco Co. of Canada Ltd. was incorporated and purchased the Canadian holdings of the American Tobacco Company of the United States.

Early 1900s

Feeling the need to expand, in 1899, the new company, the American Tobacco Co. of Canada, acquired the firm of Léon Larue Jr., which specialized in snuff manufacturing. It also bought 80% of the shares of Empire Tobacco Co. located in Granby. This company held all the capital stock in La Compagnie de Tabac de Joliette which operated an agricultural plant in Joliette, located north of Montréal.

The next acquisition took place in 1903 with the purchase of B. Houde Co. in Québec City. This company had been in business since 1840 and specialized in pipe tobacco made of "tabac canadien" grown in the Joliette district.

In 1907, the American Tobacco Co. and the American Snuff Co. of New York formed the National Snuff Co., each having a 50% interest. It later became the National Tobacco Co. In 1986, Imperial Tobacco Limited sold the shares it owned in National Tobacco Co. to the United States Tobacco Co., which continues to supply Canadian consumers with smokeless tobacco products.

The American Tobacco Co. of Canada Ltd., which had been operating on Côté Street in Montréal, moved to its new building on St. Antoine Street in 1907. At that time, St. Antoine Street West was far from Montréal's business district and the move was regarded as very radical. The plant was then generally known as the "Sweet Caporal" factory.

In 1908, Imperial Tobacco Co. of Canada (ITCo) acquired all of the operations of American Tobacco Co. of Canada Ltd. The B. Houde Co. continued to operate but American Tobacco and Empire Tobacco ceased their manufacturing operations.

The 1908 ITCo was the immediate predecessor of the Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada Limited (ITCL) which was incorporated on April 3, 1912. The company manufactured cigarettes, smoking and chewing tobaccos, snuff and little cigars but no large cigars. To fill this gap, General Cigar Company, which included the long-established firm of S. Davis & Son, was acquired in 1921. Production of snuff and chewing tobacco ended with the sale of the National Tobacco Co.


In 1930, the company acquired all the common shares of the Tuckett Tobacco Company. The purchase of this company, which originated in 1857 in Hamilton, Ontario under the name of Tuckett & Billings, brought with it Tobacco Products Company of Canada Ltd. and Philip Morris Co. Ltd. In 1942, ITCo also acquired the firm of L.O. Grothé, and in 1949, Newfoundland's Imperial Tobacco Company Limited.

Over the years the company expanded into areas beyond the tobacco industry – a diversification which dictated certain changes in corporate structure. Hence, in 1970, Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada Limited was reorganized and renamed Imasco Limited (IMperial and ASsociated COmpanies), making Imperial Tobacco Limited a subsidiary. Imasco operated in the following areas: tobacco, pharmacies, financial services and real estate. Tobacco products, however, still accounted for a major portion of total Imasco revenues. Imperial Tobacco, then a division of Imasco, manufactured a range of tobacco products, including cigars, cigarillos, fine cut, and, of course, cigarettes.


Imperial Tobacco also operates an American subsidiary company, I.T.L. (U.S.A.) Limited. In 1998, Imperial, through ITL U.S.A., launched their first brand in the United States with Mercer, made in full flavour and light versions.

Early 2000s

On February 1, 2000, Imperial Tobacco Limited became part of the British American Tobacco Group. This followed the earlier overwhelming support by Imasco shareholders for a special resolution permitting the sale of the remaining 58.5% of Imasco shares not already owned by the Group. Imperial Tobacco Canada has since carried on its business activities under the name of Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited.

In November 2000, following a strategic decision to fully concentrate its activities and focus on the cigarette business, Imperial Tobacco Canada concluded a transaction through which all its cigar trademarks were sold to ST Cigar Group Holding BV. The major trademarks involved were Colts, Old Port, House of Lords and Reas.

A major restructuring of the company, which began in 2003, resulted in the closure of the Montréal plant which had been in operation since 1907. This restructuring also resulted in the closure of the green leaf threshing plant in Aylmer, Ontario, as well as the phasing out of the reconstituted tobacco operations, which have now ceased. Today, Imperial Tobacco's products are manufactured at B.A.T. Mexico's factory in Monterrey. Imperial Tobacco Canada currently employs more than 900 people.

In 2006, Direct to Store Delivery (DSD) was introduced. DSD is a proven distribution method in many product categories (beverages, snack foods, etc.) and countries. Imperial Tobacco Canada was the first tobacco company in Canada to implement DSD on a national scale.

Present Divisions and Current Brands

Imperial Brands
du Maurier go to Brand du Maurier
Avanti go to Brand Avanti

John Player and Sons
Player's go to Brand Player's (Canadian versions)
John Player Special go to Brand John Player Special (Virginia Blend)
John Player Standard go to Brand John Player Standard
Player's Special Blend go to Brand Player's Special Blend

Allan Ramsay and Company
Matinée go to Brand Matinée
Medallion go to Brand Medallion
Vogue go to Brand Vogue

Imperial Tobacco Canada
Marlboro Canadian go to Brand Marlboro Canadian
Pall Mall go to Brand Pall Mall
Peter Jackson go to Brand Peter Jackson
Viceroy go to Brand Viceroy

Defunct Brands

Belair go to Brand Belair
Bermuda Kings go to Brand Bermuda Kings
Bouquet go to Brand Bouquet
Buckingham go to Brand Buckingham
Cameo go to Brand Cameo
Capstan go to Brand Capstan
Casino go to Brand Casino
Chesterfield go to Brand Chesterfield
Chevron go to Brand Chevron
Cortina {a compact-sized brand from the late 1960s; see under du Maurier.}
Crown go to Brand Crown
Embassy go to Brand Embassy
Goldcrest go to Brand Goldcrest
Gold Flake go to Brand Gold Flake
Grads go to Brand Grads
Guinea Gold go to Brand Guinea Gold
Imperial Fleur go to Brand Imperial Fleur
Kool go to Brand Kool
Lucky Strike go to Brand Lucky Strike
Mallard go to Brand Mallard
Mayfair go to Brand Mayfair
Millbank go to Brand Millbank
Navy Cut go to Brand Navy Cut
Noblesse go to Brand Noblesse
Old Kentucky go to Brand Old Kentucky
Pall Mall Virginia go to Brand Pall Mall (Butler & Butler / A.T.C.)
Philip Morris go to Brand Philip Morris
Player's Gold Leaf go to Brand Player’s Gold Leaf
Player’s No. 6 go to Brand Player’s No. 6
Richmond go to Brand Richmond
State Express 333 go to Brand State Express 333
State Express 555 go to Brand State Express 555
Sterling [no information available]
Sweet Caporal go to Brand Sweet Caporal
Turret go to Brand Turret
Virginia Ovals go to Brand Virginia Ovals
Winchester go to Brand Winchester

External Links

Consumer Help
Write a letter, e-mail, or fax using the instructions given at the Corporate Affairs page of the Imperial Tobacco site. As well, some of Imperial’s brands have dedicated websites which are designed strictly for customer service.

Internal Links

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