by Gabrielle MacLellan Clydesdale horses are a heavy draft horse named after a district in Scotland where they were discovered. The breed evolved by the farmers of Lanarkshire, the old name for this area is Clydesdale. They were bred not only for agricultural needs but also to fill the coal fields desire for heavy haulage.
In 1877 the Clydesdale Horse society was formed. They have been an important force in the promotion of the breed not just in Great Britain but across the world.
Clydesdales have become prominent in advertising, specifically in Budweiser commercials. Some of the original Budweiser Clydesdales were from Winnipeg. In 1933 the St. Louis, Anheuser-Brush, brewery was the largest in North America and they were the brewers of Budweiser. The two sons of owner August A. Busch, Sr., surprised their father with the gift of a six horse Clydesdale hitch. August was pleased with the gift and the following year his company purchased more Clydesdales from Patrick Shea.
Shea was originally from Ireland and moved to Manitoba in 1882. After meeting John McDonagh the two of them purchased the Waverley Hotel near Higgins and Main. The hotels beverage room became a popular place. In 1887 Shae and McDonagh left the hotel business and purchased a rundown Brewery in Winnipeg. The new brewery was Called McDonagh and Shae and quickly found success. In 1893 McDonagh died leaving Shea the only owner, the original name was kept until 1926 and the brewery had to be reincorporated due to new liquor production rules. The new name was Shea’s Winnipeg Brewery Ltd.
During this time the only mode of transportation in the city was horse power. Different companies had their own preferred breed of horses, Shea’s preferred Clydesdales. Horses where a large investment for companies, many often had more horses employed than humans. Shae spare no expense when it came to breeding Clydesdales, they were an important part of his business’s image. The large investment was worth it for Shae his horses won top prizes at shows in both Canada and the United States.
Like Shea, August took an active role in the breading of the Clydesdales and their Stables are now home to over 250 Clydesdales. Today the Budweiser Clydesdales are no strangers to the spotlight. They have been a part of two provincial inaugurations, and are a part of many events each year. The Dufferin Historical Museum in Carman has pictures of the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch, along with many harnesses and tools used with them.