Abstract: Scale and Soap: Lever Brothers in Canada, 1889–1914

Andrew D. Smith


This paper discusses the successes enjoyed by Lever Brothers in Canada before 1914. I consider possible reasons as to why the company did better in Canada than in the United States in this period. These include: tariff differences, the existence of stronger local soap makers in the United States, and the nature of Canadian trademark law. Although the main focus of my paper is on the company's rapid growth in Canada in the twenty-five years before 1914, I will outline some reasons why Lever Brothers was slow to respond to the American intrusion into the Canadian soap trade that began in earnest around 1915. Lever's earlier successes in the Canadian market came in a unique of window of opportunity when Canada still looked to Britain. The major source in preparing this paper was the Unilever Archives in Port Sunlight, Cheshire. Lever's correspondence has been supplemented with published materials such as newspapers, international trade statistics, and census data.