Robertson’s Candy has been making sweet holiday treats for 95 years

Posted on December 15, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 1 Comment

A bag of Robertson’s barley toy candy, a sweet Maritime holiday tradition (photo credit: Robertson’s Candy and Confectionery)


Colourful ribbon-shaped candy and clear, toy-like confections are sweet holiday traditions for many Maritimers. Operating for nearly a century, Robertson’s Candy is the go-to spot for these special treats, especially around Christmas time. Still operating in Nova Scotia, Robertson’s is the largest family-owned candy factory in the province.

Getting started

The beginning of Robertson’s Candy dates back to 1928 when William C. Robertson decided to enter the candy-making business. Setting up shop in Truro, Nova Scotia, Robertson focused on making hard candy.

Barley toy candy, also known as clear toy candy, toy candy or animal candy, became one of the company’s specialties. Originating in Europe, the clear hard candy is moulded in a variety of fun shapes and often dyed with bright red, green or yellow colouring. Sometimes a stick is added before the candy fully sets to make it into a lollipop. While barley toy candy making in Atlantic Canada dates as far back as 1880, it was after Roberton’s came around that these special treats started becoming a holiday tradition. Having accumulated a plethora of candy moulds over the years, Robertson’s Candy has one of the largest collections in the world.


Paul and Leisa Furlong, who acquired Robertson’s Candy in 2016 (photo credit: Robertson’s Candy and Confectionery)

Changing hands

Though Roberton’s Candy grew over time, its long-established recipes and handcrafted methods for making candy remained. In 1977, William’s son Roy Robertson took over the business for about 40 years until he decided to retire. Wanting Robertson’s to remain a family-owned business in Truro, Roy sold operations to local couple Paul and Leisa Furlong in 2016.


A tub of ribbon candy, a classic holiday treat (photo credit: Made in the Maritimes)

Festive traditions

Through a location-based Facebook group, Nova Scotians were asked about their experience with this long-standing local company.

One woman wanting to remain anonymous reached out via Facebook Messenger to share her memory as a student in Mrs. Gladys Robertson’s grade five class in 1975. Mrs. Robertson was married to the owner of Robertson’s and would reward students with pieces of candy in math class.

Many others have fond memories of Robertson’s Candy as a holiday tradition. Lalia remembers getting a piece from Santa at Sunday school each year and Shelia in Middle Sackville says Robertson’s were her father’s Christmas treat. Sorting through all the different shapes of barley toy candy is something that 39-year-old Karen Durling loved doing with her grandmother each year.

“What’s Christmas Day without sucking on a barley toy candy?” commented Pam Griffin-Hody who had family mail them to her while living in Ottawa and she already has Robertson’s Candy packed for an upcoming trip to Toronto.


A close-up of some barley toy candy (photo credit: Saltscapes)

Still s weet

Now officially called Robertson’s Candy and Confectionery, this family-owned candy manufacturer continues to operate in Truro, Nova Scotia. Its products have been sold across North America and have shipped as far as New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and Bosnia. Still making classics like barley toy candy, satin hard mix and their take on chicken bone candy (popularized by Ganong Bros.), Robertson’s now also makes natural treats.

Almost a century in the making and still sweet.


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One response to “Robertson’s Candy has been making sweet holiday treats for 95 years”

  1. Love the Chicken Bones I got from family in Nova Scotia. I live in Port Alberni, BC, on Vancouver Island. Is it possible to have this candy mailed to me? How much is a pouch?
    Would pay for it on my credit card.

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