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A “Good Company”

Bonne compagnie (Good company) is the title of a promotional film commissioned by National Breweries in the mid-1940s. Dawes Black Horse Brewery wanted to provide an attractive workplace for its employees. For the time, the working conditions were very good. Between 1939 and 1946, annual salaries rose by nearly 119%, more than doubling. The company organized sports, social and cultural activities for employees and their families (bowling, golf tournaments, large card parties, brewery tours, sports leagues, etc.). Employees received one week of paid vacation after one year of service, two after ten years and three after 25 years. The company also offered a pension plan, a life insurance plan and medical services.

In 1936, National Breweries introduced an in-house magazine. Initially bilingual and later published in separate English and French versions, the NBL Review was sent to every employee at home. This allowed the whole family to read about the production and marketing of beer, the consortium breweries and employee news. The brewery wanted to generate a sense of belonging and pride among its workers and to make itself known to their families and friends. A note on the Review’s cover says, “Published in the interests of the employees,” but the magazine clearly served the company’s interests as well.