Historic Saint John Series – Red Rose Tea Building
How Geocaching Works
Use of geocaching.com services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer
Should be a quick P & G.
This is another cache in my Historical series, which has been garnering many positive reviews! That’s awesome! Personally, it’s been a great experience discovering what I have about my ‘adopted’ hometown.
See GC3HWQ3: Historic Saint John Series - County Courthouse for the first in the series and also to find links to the rest of the series.
No room for tradeables. BYOP. You’re looking for silver colored cylindrical container, also known as a bison tube.
There is only room for initials on logsheet! You may want to bring tweezers, a tiny screwdriver, or something similar to access the logsheet.
This being in the uptown area, you can expect lots of Muggles!
Saint John is a city steeped in history. Commonly referred to as ‘the Loyalist City’ as well as ‘Canada’s Most Irish City,’ Saint John is Canada's oldest incorporated city (1785). Saint John is home to this country's oldest museum and farmers market. Saint John also established Canada's first police force. This city has been welcoming people from Eastern Europe, England and Ireland for centuries, with each group of immigrants leaving their unique imprint on Saint John culture, architecture and language.
Once at the cache site, you’ll be facing one of the most visible and prominent fixtures in the uptown area and has been a landmark in the Saint John for well over a hundred years - The Red Rose Tea Building.
The story of this company, and building, dates back to 1894. Saint John’s connection to tea dates back more than a century, and was an important part of the local economy of the day, arriving first on wooden sailing ships, then steamers, and railcars. The tea was originally sold loose from tea chests by local merchants but the quality varied until local businessman Theodore Harding Estabrooks came up with the great idea...to produce and pack a quality blended tea that was consistent from cup to cup. So the T.H. Estabrooks Tea Company was founded on May 1st 1894 and his business was opened at 61-63 Dock Street. The "Red Rose" brand was born in 1899 when Estabrooks met M. R. Miles, a member of a prestigious tea taster family in England. They come up with the idea to create a blend of Indian and Sri Lankan teas, rather than the more common Chinese and Japanese teas. During the first year of business he only sold $166.00 in tea. Even with such weak beginnings, h did not give up. In just 6 years, he was selling over a thousand tons of tea per year. Their tea became a household name around NB and Nova Scotia and spread into New England.
The Red Rose Tea Building was built in 1903, and is the sole surviving example of Saint John's 19th century tea industry today. The 5 storey plant opened at 35-49 Mill Street on Dec 30 on "Red Rose Day" and was described as the largest tea warehouse in Canada, built specifically for blending, packing, and shipping teas and employed a staff of 70 people In 1929, Red Rose introduced tea bags for the first time. A tea warehouse was built circa 1943 to the west of the main building, used for tea storage. Tea boxes would be unloaded and stored in this building and then transferred to the main building when needed for blending. You can still see a large Red Rose Tea mural on its west wall today.
In the 1920’s, Estabrooks had become friends with Gerald Brooke and so when Estabrooks made the decision to retire, he sold Red Rose to Brooke Bond & Company of England in 1932. After WWII, Brooke Bond expanded and established new packing plants in Montreal, but kept the original facility in New Brunswick. Unilever acquired Brooke Bond Canada in 1984, and the plant in Saint John was closed in 1988.
Red Rose remains a well known name in tea today, especially in Britain and Canada. Although the company started in Canada, it has in more recent years split into U.S. and Canadian versions and many believe the Canadian Red Rose tea is superior.
T. H. Estabrooks died in 1945 and is buried in Fernhill cemetery. A prominent business person, he was a president of the Board of Trade and a director of the Saint John Tourists Association, VP of the NB Museum and was involved in numerous other organizations. He was born in Wicklow in 1861, came to Saint John in 1882 and studied at Kerr’s Business College and began work with W. H. Harrison & Company in 1884, importing molasses. He began his own business in 1894 and retired in 1936. The son of Estabrook’s first boss, Walter A Harrison, was the vice president of the Red Rose Tea Company and T. Donald Estabrooks succeeded his father as president of the firm in 1936.
The Red Rose Tea building still stands as a heritage building today and is an excellent example of the plain and fancy architectural style. The Red Rose building stood as a dominant corner building near the harbour and along a busy commercial street. Today it serves as a significant gateway to the uptown core and a landmark to a vital part of Saint John’s history.