|Description: Paper covered rectangular cocoa tin with snap-on impressed lid. Box made of two pieces of tin: wall and base. The wall ends are joined by a crimp. The base edge is extended .5 cm below the floor of the box, rolled to the outside. The lid is impressed with a border .7 cm wide and lettered: "Cowan Co. Limited Toronto". The paper label is printed in multicolour on a buff background and reads: "Refreshing, Cowan's Perfection Cocoa. Trade Mark Registered. Healthful."
References: http://archindont.torontopubliclibrary.ca and http://www.travel~net.com.
History: Cowan, John Warren, merchant and manufacturer; b. 1841 in Nenagh (Republic of Ireland), son of Edmund Cowan and Tryphena Clark; m. 28 March 1867 in Montreal to Isabella Dimmock, daughter of Charles Dimmock of Brantford, Ont., and they had eight children, of whom two sons and two daughters survived to maturity; d. 5 April 1908 in Toronto. In 1859 Cowan moved to Montreal, where he became a traveller for wholesale tea dealer John Duncan and Company. In 1876, with 20 years experience in the grocery business, Cowan established the wholesale tea and coffee firm of John W. Cowan and Company in Toronto. By 1885 it had three travellers and was doing business throughout the province. Cowan was determined to diversify into the cocoa and chocolate trade so he purchased the equipment of a failed firm and formed Cowan, Musgrave and Company. He had then entered a realm of products that required packaging for the retail trade (unlike tea and coffee, which were sold as bulk goods). Cocoa and chocolate were sold in handsome lithographed or paper-labeled tins with distinctive brand markings, meant to inspire product consistency and quality by the manufacturer and brand loyalty on the part of the consumer.
In 1890, with Guelph businessman John A. Wood, Cowan formed a joint stock company, the Cowan Cocoa and Chocolate Company of Toronto Limited, and began an aggressive campaign to expand. His marketing efforts included a booth at the Industrial Exhibition in Toronto, free samples of cocoa, and souvenir boxes of chocolate ginger. In 1898 Cowan adopted the maple leaf as a brand for his products to distinguish them as Canadian goods in competition with imports. His marketing efforts resulted in a reported fourteen fold increase in production and the construction of a modern factory in Toronto in 1905. By the time of his death in 1908, his products were being advertised from Halifax to Vancouver. The company was continued under the direction of his son Herbert Norton until 1926, when it was sold to Rowntree and Company (Canada) Limited, a British firm, which maintained the Cowan line of products.
Donated by long time volunteer and Mississauga resident, John Hammil. Many of the artifacts donated belonged to either his family or that of his first wife Gertrude.