Old Dominick

         ...and D. Canale & Co.



Domenico Canale was an Italian-American immigrant who founded the D. Canale & Co distributorship in Memphis that became the largest distributor of produce throughout the Southern United States and the primary beer distributor for the Mid-South region.  In a 1905 article , he is quoted,  "(He)... is prouder of having rightly reared eight children than he is of his splendid success in business." 


San Pietro di Rovereto, Italy

Domenico Canale was born in the Italian Riviera community of San Pietro di Rovereto, about 25 miles from Genoa, Italy.  He immigrated to America in 1859 when he was 16 years old, landing in New Orleans after a 65 day ocean voyage.  He immediately boarded the steamboat John Simon for Memphis, where an uncle ran the "A. Vaccero & Co." wholesale liquor and wine business.  Domenico began working for his uncle, Abraham Vaccaro, and saving his money.  Within 5 years he had saved enough to start his own produce distributing business.  The 1865 Memphis Directory shows a listing for "Canale & Brother" operating a "Confectionery" at 21 Adams.  The brother's name was Peter D. Canale.


Domenico was selling sweets, fruits and vegetables from his own push cart, but he continued an interest in the liquor trade.  During 1869 he married Katherine Solari who was born in the same district in Italy as he.  She was the sister of a noted Memphis Italian-American painter, Mary Solari.  Together, they had eight children, five sons and three daughters.  From 1871 to 1875 the Memphis Directories list the business as "Canale and Solari" - the "Solari" was Katherine's borther.  In 1876 the business is listed for the first time as "D. Canale & Co."


Katherine and Dominico


Dominic Canale

Steamer John Simon

1865  - Canale & Bro


Mary Solari

Canale-Solari 1873


Directory Listings ... 1865 (Confectioner) to 1876 (D Canale & Co)

1865-Confectioners Canale & Bro - 1866 P D & Co-1867-68 1868-69 Dominick Canale-1870

Confectioner - 21 Adams

Confectioner -21 Adams Conf & Fruit - 21 Adams Clerk - A. VacarroC Liquor-Grocer 280 Front
Canale & Solari-1871

Canale & Solari-1872

Canale & Solari-1872-73

Canale & Solari-1874

D Canale & Co-1876

82 Beale

82 Beale 82 Beale 82 Beale

8 Madison


Although the company sold wholesale vegetables and fruits they also sold a quality bourbon whiskey named "Old Dominic".  And they distributed a number of beers including Pabst Blue Ribbon and Champagne Velvet.  The Old Dominick brand of whiskey quickly gained a local and regional customer base, as it was advertised lavishly with large signs on buildings in downtown Memphis.  The whiskey was sold in stoneware jugs and in glass bottles.  Canale also became quite popular for his giveaways to saloons, including paperweights and shot glasses. 


Old Dominick Whiskey Sign

Sign Sign Sign
D. Canale & Co stoneware jugs, vintage bottles, and giveaways  ...

Vintage D Canale & Co. Stoneware jugs

Vintage bottles



Toddy Decanter


Paperweight Dice

Shot Glass

Shot Glass

Shot Glass


The 1905 book "Notable Men of Tennessee" wrote of Domenic Canale, "(He) ...stands today at the head of the fruit business of Memphis and perhaps of the South.  Mr. Canale is what is rightly termed a self-made man, and has won his position in the social and commercial life of Memphis by his industry, his native ability, and the exercise of correct business principles."  The company's slogan is "Making Friends is Our Business" and they now have a prominent building at 61 S.  Main Street at Union.   They also expanded and opened a branch in Helena, Arkansas. 

61 S. Main Street  

Notable Men.


       1891 Billhead 

Fire 1902

Produce Wagon 1907

Old Dominick 1908

Dominick Rye 1912


US Hearings 1918 61 S. Main Humorous Design 1901 Billhead

Trade Show Exhibit


1900 Billhead Spring Valley 1880 Ad 1910 Parade 1922 Billhead

           1892 Billhead

1876 Daily Appeal


1915 Warehouse

1915 Warehouse


1911 Billhead

Mike Canale 1877

Mike-Domenic 1878

Death of Andrew's son

Mike Canale 1879


As Canale prospered the Vaccaro relatives also continued in business, but down a different road.  Abraham Vaccaro served as Police and Fire Commissioner, and even helped found the Union and Planters Bank in Memphis.  But by the late 1890s, the Vaccaro's liquor organization was slipping.  At the time of Abraham's death in 1899, the company was in debt  and went through Bankruptcy.   And by 1919, the surviving brothers had  let the firm go out of business.   Directory postings below show the business in good times and at the end. 

Vaccaro ad...1857  

1859 - Vaccaro 1865 - Vaccaro 1866 - Vaccaro Vaccaro Btl 1872 ad 1876 ad

1918 - Vaccaro


Vaccaro, 2nd Street 1907  

Abraham B. Vaccato

Vincent Vaccaro

Antonio Vaccaro


Peter D. Canale  

In 2015,  during research for the Canale page, the Historic-Memphis.com website came across some surprising information in old copies of the Memphis Daily Appeal Newspaper:  We found another Canale brother who is not mentioned in the official Canale biographies:  Peter D. Canale.  
Below are the various newspaper accounts of Peter which verify  the biography we have been able to create for him.

Peter D. Canale  
1870 Census

1871 Italian Ball

1871 Association

 1872 Barkeep

1872 Saloon

1872 Appeal Saloon


1872 Appeal Saloon

1872 Appeal Saloon

1872 Appeal Saloon

1873 Antonia Clara

1874 Italian Picnic

1875 Picnic


Peter was born circa 1844-1847 in San Pietro di Rovereto and came to the United States when he was 12 years old,  about 1859, probably at the same time as Dominic.  The Memphis Directories show both of them living together at 21 Adams in Memphis in 1866  and working at "Canale & Brother - confectioner".  Later, they will both also work for their uncle A. Vacarro & Co.  Peter was very social and served on various Memphis Committees, particularly the Italian organizations.  By profession, he became a bartender, and later had his own bar, the popular Appeal Saloon at 18 Union.  During the Civil War, Peter served in the army and suffered a dramatic facial injury (This may be why we've not located any photos).  In 1872 he married Mary and in 1873 they had one daughter, Antonia Clara, who died in infancy.   During the 1878 Yellow Fever epidemic, Peter remained as active as ever, but on October 14th, he became ill, and died 48 hours later.  His death is prominently covered in the local news.  He was only 34 when he died. 


1875 Decoration Day 1877 Army Reunion 1878 Charity 1878 Italian Society 1878 Busy

1878 Columbus Day

1878 Fever

1878 Fever

1878 Death

1878 Death

1878 Death Roll

1878 Obit


Mary was still very young at the time of his death and the Memphis Directories (below) show her continuing to live at 79 Union for many years.  Yet the 1889 Census shows her living with the Michael Canale family.


1878 Memorial

1878 Death Roll


1889 Census

Passenger List

Birth Certificate

1866 Canale & Bro 1878 Peter 1879 1879 Mary 1885 Mary 1893 Mary


Happy Birthday Tony Canale ... 1917  

This great photo depicts a group of Memphis businessmen who were brought together in 1917 to celebrate Tony Canale's birthday.  In the front row, right side is an easily recognizable Clarence Saunders.  Members of Domenico's family, including all of his sons, are also in the photo but, as yet, not identified. 

- Collection  Drew J. Canale, Jr.


1917 Birthday for Domenico Canale     



Domenico died in 1919 and the company passed down to his eldest son, John D, and then to John D. Jr.  Liquor and Beer sales ended during Prohibition, but once the law was repealed, the company continued with Old Dominick for a time, but eventually shifted its interest to the distribution of beer and produce only.  Through the next several years, D. Canale & Co. became the largest produce distributor in the South.   In 1940, Anheuser-Busch products were added to the company's inventory. In 1956 they sold the produce division and entered the institutional food business.  Later a restaurant material business was added and another food broker was acquired, making the company a force in the institutional food business.

Domenico's Grave     


Budwiser 1890s C.V. Beer 1933 Ad Pabst Blue Ribbon Warehouse 1940

Warehouse  Bldg today


In 1982, the food and beer business was separated from the parent company and D. Canale Food Services and D. Canale Beverages were formed.  John D. Canale III became president of Food Services and Chris W. Canale became chairman of D. Canale Beverages.  In 1999, D. Canale Food Services was sold to Sara Lee.  With annual sales of over 5 million cases of Anheuser Busch products, the company had a gross revenue of $80 million in 2009.  Over many decades, it was the primary beer distributor for the Mid-South.  In September 2010, D. Canale & Co. sold its beer distributing business to the Hand Family Beverage Company of Clarksville, TN.  D. Canale & Co. had been a staple of the Mid-South economy for 144 years and was one of the oldest businesses in Memphis.

Canale Beverages . 45 Crump




The return of Old Dominick ... 

D. Canale & Co. is building a spirits distillery and public tasting room called "Old Dominick" in downtown Memphis.  It's scheduled to open February 2017 in a 1920's-era building at 301 S. Front.  The facility will be used for the production and bottling of ultra premium spirits.

The extended Canale Family Dynasty ...
Domenico, Katherine, John D, Andrew, Anthony, James, Annie, Esther, Katherine, George and ...

The Canale family has long been involved with scores of charities, and oversees the Canale Foundation, the largest privately funded foundation in Memphis.  Dedicated to its hometown, it was instrumental in refurbishing the New Daisy Theatre, Beale Street, and the Orpheum Theatre.  They have also maintained a strong relationship with the local Boys and Girls club and serve on many boards including the National Bank of Commerce, Christian Brothers University, the Assisi Foundation, the Memphis Food Bank, William R. Moore School of Technology, the Hutchison School, and the Boy Scouts of America.


There are many Canale's in the Memphis area and many of them are pictured below.  Only a Genealogist or another Canale might be able to group them by families.    All Memphis and Mid-South Canale's trace their ancestry to the three brothers:  Michael, Dominic, and Andrew.

Any information or enlightenment will be appreciated?  < gene.gill@verizon.net >






John D.











Drew J. Canale




Michael -Phil   Phil M. jr.   Dan

Dan's Obit 2016


Domenic James "Peg" Coleen-Chris Justin Conn

John Ford


D. Canale Beverages Canale Funeral Home Canale Farms

Canale Grocery Canale Grocery Tony Obit 1937 Katherine 1923  

Canale Arena CBU





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