Born on August 23, 1828, Simeon Jones was a respected brewer and politician in New Brunswick in the late 1800’s. In honour of this man, and our Simeon Jones River Valley Amber Ale, we’re sharing this article written by Rene Comeau for Kings Landing. For those who don’t know who Simeon Jones was, perhaps this will give you a little insight as to why this man is so significant to New Brunswick’s (beer) history.
You may be familiar with Simeon Jones — one of many delicious craft beers brewed by Picaroons in Fredericton. However, Simeon Jones is much more than just the name of a beer. It’s the name of an actual man who was very influential and left quite a legacy in New Brunswick and across the country. Kings Landing and Picaroons have partnered up to bring Simeon’s story back to life.
It all started back in the year of 1828 when Thomas and Jane Jones had their firstborn son, Simeon. Until age 20, he lived in the Jones family house which is now found as part of the Exhibit Experience at Kings Landing. Upon stepping foot into this historic house you’ll find several artefacts on display with panels explaining the significance and family history of each.
As a young educated man looking to explore new opportunities, Mr. Jones left his childhood home and made the big move to Saint John. He was about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. Once he had arrived in Saint John, Simeon was approached by a burly Scotsman, Robert Keltie. Keltie had mistaken him for another man who he had intended to hire for his brewery. Simeon was in the right place at the right time and got a job at Keltie’s Saint John brewery in 1848 which was the big break he needed. Soon after, he became Keltie’s manager and eventually bought the business from Keltie and re-named it the Simeon Jones Ale Company. His ale became known throughout the Maritimes for its hearty, robust flavour and glowing amber colour.
After many years of booming business, an ageing Simeon sold the brewery to his three sons in 1892. The three sons operated the brewery as “Red Ball” for the next 26 years until George Oland bought the business from them in 1918. Simeon’s brewery was just one of his many accomplishments and contributions to Saint John and New Brunswick.
In 1879 he began his career in the public sector when he was elected a member of city council in Saint John, where he served as chairman of the finance committee. In 1881, he was elected as mayor of Saint John and held this position for the next three years. During this time, Simeon became a very well respected leader in the community. After retiring as mayor in 1884 he brought in an architect to build a magnificent gothic-style mansion which he called “Caverhill Hall.” The local newspapers celebrated the new mansion which attracted major attention to the city. To celebrate the opening of Caverhill Hall, the Jones family hosted a reception for Prime Minister John A. MacDonald and his wife, with 250 guests in attendance. This dinner proved that Simeon had influence stretching far greater than Saint John; he was an important figure all across the country. Today, you can find the iconic Caverhill Hall on Sydney Street in Saint John.
The retired mayor relocated to New York City where he was active in business before he moved to London, England where he passed away at the age of 87. In his final years, Mr. Jones hired a Canadian artist, William Brymer, to paint his portrait. Kings Landing acquired the original portrait in poor condition but had it fully restored and is now part of their collection of over 70,000 artefacts. The portrait is stored in a temperature-controlled warehouse where it will be preserved for generations to come. However, for your viewing pleasure, reproductions are on display at the Jones Gallery and in the Simeon Jones Room at the King’s Head Inn Restaurant.
Stop by Kings Landing and step foot in Mr. Jones’ childhood home and learn about his family history. For lunch, kick back at the King’s Head Inn and try the beer that’s brewed in his honour – Picaroons Simeon Jones River Valley Amber Ale!