Palacio Lezama

The city of Buenos Aires is full of buildings that carry the stories of those who built them, most of them immigrants who came to “make America”, dedicating their lives to their projects in these new lands. Such is the case of this immigrant, José Canale, who landed in Buenos Aires around the year 1860, coming from a small Genoese town, in Italy. Since he did not have money for the passage, he traveled in the hold of the ship, below deck, bringing only his job as a baker.

José married Blanca Vaccaro very young, who had also come from the same region of Genoa, but whom he met in Corrientes, on one of his many work trips. And in 1875 they began their project with a bakery in Defensa and Cochabamba, in the San Telmo neighborhood.

The Canale factory continued to prosper in this building, inaugurated in 1910. It was a time when Argentina was progressing rapidly. The development of the entire industrial part of Canale grew hand in hand with Amadeo, who also created Genoese sweet bread with very moist dough, which would become another classic.

Soon, the product portfolio began to expand and cookies of all kinds appeared, under the name: “Viuda de Canale e Hijos SA Establecimientos Fabriles”. Among those cookies, the famous “Cerealitas” appeared, a product that exists to this day. The traditional cans remain from that time, highly sought after and coveted by collectors.

Since the Second World War, Canale again developed a strong expansion process into other product categories, such as noodles, cookies, jams, and flour. It even had a tin shop in Llavallol that supplied cans to a large part of the Argentine market, several canning factories in different parts of the country that sold under the Canale brand (in Mendoza, Río Negro, Mar del Plata), and service contracts. in different factories in the country (for example, tomatoes in La Rioja). That venture that began with José and Blanca's bakery now had 3,500 employees.

In addition, there was the flour factory on Av. Martín García and a commercial organization that had 360 vendors. They distributed to retailers with a large sales force. And one of the reasons why Canale began to have problems is because it did not adapt quickly to the commercial change that occurred when the large supermarkets began to enter the country, explained Guillermo Barzi, great-grandson of the founder of the Canale "empire", and president. from the Humberto Canale Winery.

During that time of expansion, Amadeo's two sons took the reins: Manuel and José, with their respective wives María Magdalena and Blanca. These people dedicated almost their entire lives to the company. "They arrived at seven in the morning and left at eight at night," Barzi remarked. José had a son, Rodolfo Canale, who would become the last president of the company.

During the twentieth century, the business suffered from fluctuations in the economy. In 1985, a fire that consumed a large part of the factory meant that the Canale firm could not recover.

In 1995, and after several years of productive instability, the Canale family (which had expanded into the wine area creating the Humberto Canale winery) decided to sell the company to the SOCMA group, who in 1999, in turn, decided to sell it to the multinational American company Nabisco, and it would move its production to Brazil. Finally, Nabisco sells it to Kraft (today Mondelez).

Many of the emblematic products were discontinued, including the famous biscuits. Today, as Barzi comments with a halo of nostalgia, the only thing left on the market with the Canale brand is sweet bread and Cerealitas. 146 years have passed since that "great" baker who laid the foundations of an empire that spanned four generations of Canale and burned his products among Argentine consumers.

In 2000, the factory closed and during the following years the Canale building was used to hold some events, such as hosting Casa FOA in 2006, but its opening was clearly occasional. In recent years the place was only used for important events and architectural exhibitions.

In 2012, they began to think about a project to give life to this space again: convert it into the headquarters of the City Government, in a plan to revitalize the Barracas area and the south of the city.

This historic building of heritage value (which occupies an area of 30,000 m²) was completely remodeled between 2012 and 2014 and two floors were added for office uses, respecting its original façade. Shortly after, the ministries of Modernization and Technological Innovation, Public Space and Environment, Urban Development and Transportation were installed; among others.

Today you can see its haughty and shining façade, framed between the limits of Barracas, La Boca and San Telmo, in the south of the city, as an emblem that reminds us of the history of what it was.

As the years went by, the small bakery gained notoriety for its exquisite preparations. They made significant progress and by the late 1800s, the premises became a luxury bakery. But, unfortunately, José died very young, at 40 years old, and the widow and her five children were left in charge of the family business. Amadeo, one of the sons, would get fully involved in the business and would go down in history for being the creator of one of the most emblematic products on the Argentine table: the Canale sponge cake.


As a result of this success, they continued to grow and around 1906 they began the construction of the factory that would later become the emblematic building of the company, on Avenida Martín García 320, in front of Parque Lezama. The new building, 100 meters long and 70 meters deep, was designed by Canale's three sons: Amadeo, Julio and Humberto, the latter studied and graduated as a civil engineer. At one point, he partnered with engineer Luis Huergo, who was dean of the Faculty of Engineering and a luxury consultant. Together, in 1909 they bought 400 hectares in Río Negro and founded the Humberto Canale winery, under the name of Huergo Canale.