Monday, March 18, 2013

Toronto Basement Waterproofing Company Finds Privy Pits Loaded With Antique Glass Bottles

When downtown Toronto was growing up in the late 1800s, the engineers buried all the little creeks and streams that used to course across the land.  They just filled them in with whatever was handy, and quite often that was garbage - two dozen wagon loads of smelly household trash could be easily diverted from regular pickup to fill a ravine and plug up a creek on the outskirts of town. Finding those plugs is what keeps Dumpdiggers awake at night...

I did a story on a Lost Creek in Toronto and showed how property developers removed rusty metal and glass from the bottom of their excavation at King and St. Lawrence, and how they unlocked a small stream that soon made a large pond on the bottom of the pit. The condo building that exists there today has installed permanent pumps to drain the water away from the north wall and into the storm sewers on the south side of the property.

To the right is a detail from P.A. Gross' Lithographic Bird's Eye View of Toronto (1876), showing Garrison Creek a decade before it was buried by urban developers. 

Garrison Creek is a famous example of a water system that was forced underground, and you can see here on Vanishing Point Garrison Creek history website that it runs inside a brick lined sewer tunnel under or near the basements of hundreds of homes and under two dozen streets, all the way from its origins near Lawrence and Weston Rd, down old Keele, down through the College and Dufferin area, all the way down to Lake Ontario.

Basement Waterproofing Contractors Thrive in Toronto's Garrison Creek Flood Plane

The water flow in the city is much different now than it was when creeks were on the surface of the land. Today the autumn rain and melting snow in the spring seems to find little pockets of houses where it floods basements. A reputable basement waterproofing contractor in Toronto can make a killing in the Garrison Creek flood plane.
Right up until the 1970s Canadian home builders really didn’t have the technology or available products to offer a cost effective basement waterproofing solution. The best  home builders did some 'damp proofing', and Victorian era landscape architects are famous for making drainage contours and berms to avert a flash flood water courses, but basement waterproofing was heretofore unknown.

Today the accepted practice is to dig trenches and drain the excess moisture away from the cement walls from the outside using specially perforated plastic pipe that has capacity to rapidly drain the water from soil.

The basement waterproofing contractor has a hard job that is filled with back breaking labour, because he or she is usually digging so close to the walls of the structure the work really cannot be mechanized to any great extent. However this discomfort is quite often remedied by numerous discoveries of coins and small bottles and many other valuable things that accumulate near walls over the years.

Coins are commonly found when digging foundation walls at the sides of houses and barns. That’s because the wall has been there for a long time and it has always been handy for leaning against or even sitting up against in any season, and inverted pockets dump coins. Ask any archeologists and they will tell you that they find coins on both sides of any wall with equal frequency.

Bottles are uncovered in privy pits dug below latrines which once existed up against the side of the house. Before there was indoor plumbing, whole families used outdoor facilities and these holes were also the most commonly used trash receptacle for nonburnable refuse like old bottles, broken stoneware crocks, porcelain dolls, tools and dead pets.

Here's the excavation team showing off their best finds to the homeowner - they were uncovering bottles that were discarded over a hundred years ago.

These guys don't know they're digging out a pioneer family's privy pits, but not that it matters much, as that was over a hundred years ago and the chemical structure of the soil around the bottles has changed as much as the structures on top of the land above.

Post by on Mar 18, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Toronto Bottle Collectors Club Meeting, March 2013 Celebrated Animal Themes on Bottles and Stoneware

And the animals came out that night...

Brian Johnston holds a gorgeous salt glazed stoneware six gallon crock with pretty hand drawn bird figural pattern and distinctive cobalt blue slip tails. The piece originated from White's Pottery, in Upstate New York (Utica) and there are a few variations of their bird including this running bird, but also a sitting bird, and a perched bird. All are very collectible of course, and this piece is absolutely gorgeous. Highly coveted by ornithological collectors (bird nuts who grab up anything that has a bird on it)  a most conservative appraisal would estimate this piece of 18th century clay kitchenware to be worth approx $550 dollars.

On the evening of March 16th 2013 the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors club got together for coffee and cookies and long talks centered around organizing the upcoming bottle show

The 2013 Toronto Bottle Show is Sunday 21st of April!

This is the 20th year anniversary of the show! So mark your calendars and plan to attend - its going to be special. The club is working on a new logo for the anniversary occasion and  Paul Huntley brought in a light box so Darren Spindler could use his fancy camera and they could make spiffy new logos for the FSBC. There is a surprise coming, and something special will be handed out to dealers at this year's event but I can't say anymore on the subject.

In the center of that group you might recognize a Whipper's Beverages soda bottle, a very collectible ACL soda made by a famous Canadian wrestler.

Whipper's Beverages, Whipper Billy Watson Cream Soda Pop Bottle Label Illustrated Wrestling Moves for Athletes

The bottle caught my eye right at the start of the meeting. Jim Dixon put two colourful soda bottles down on the table - his contribution to animal night.  The Cardinal soda bottle in my hand is from the Gold Belt Brewery in Timmins Ontario and behind that you can see the likeness of Whipper Billy Watson.

WHIPPER'S BEVERAGES was spawned by the eternal fame of Canadian wrestler Whipper Billy Watson or  William John Potts who was born on June 25, 1915 and died  on the 4th of Feb 1990. He was an international celebrity, a Canadian professional wrestler that was famous throughout the British Empire as "Whipper" Billy Watson; he was a two-time world heavyweight wrestling champion.

The short story is that the young Whipper was born in East York which is now part of Toronto, and he grew up in the city in the 1920s and sold the Toronto Star as a newspaper boy on the Danforth in the 1930s until someone challenged him to a wrestling match which he won. He went on tour in England and then returned and wrestled at Maple Leaf Gardens during World War II. He never got a headline match until one night in 1942 he defeated four contenders to win that particular tournament .

Watson soon became a crowd favourite, one of Toronto's most popular citizens. Within a few years he was a mainstream celebrity made famous by his repeated wrestling victories and their coverage on newsreels. Frank Tunney a famous wrestling promoter in Toronto estimated that Whipper Watson drew more than five million people into main events at Maple Leaf Gardens over the span of his long career. As one of the most popular wrestlers in the city’s history, Watson spent 31 years entertaining fans. His debut at Maple Leaf Gardens was on October 3, 1940, and his last match was held there on November 28, 1971.[1]  when he teamed up with Bulldog Brower to beat Diego the Sundowner and Man Mountain Cannon in less than five minutes.

Whipper Beverages of Toronto or Breckles Beverages of Toronto had several lines including Ginger Ale, Orange, and Cream Soda in the mid 1960's to early 1970's. The spokesperson owner was "Whipper" Billy Watson, former Canadian pro wrestler, philathropist and East Yorker .

The green glass varietals of this same bottle generally fetch more money at auction as they are rare and very pretty and definitely part of Toronto and Canada's history.  Paul Huntley tells me that he has "... seen them go from $25.00 each to $250.00 each depending on who was there or not there (at the auction)." but he adds that "...not many of them out there as they are collectable in the soda world. You see about two a year come back out to auction."

In wrestling, Whipper Billy Watson was known for executing two signature wrestling moves; the Canuck Commando Unconscious move which was essentially a sleeper hold, and what wrestling fans would call a finishing move, and the Irish Whip which was a another hold, and although it was a dramatic gesture, which was invoked with 'lots of velocity' from what the commentators say, I can't figure out exactly what it was ... Some more research is required, to learn exactly what the maneuver was, and how it was executed. Perhaps I should look on the backs of the soda pop bottles, for according to Jim Dixon there are as many as eight different wrestling moves illustrated on the backs of these rare pop bottles and that makes collecting these specimens even more challenging. Now that I think on it, I'm not really sure why Jim Dixon put his Whipper on the table as it doesn't really match the theme of 'Animal Night', unless he was suggesting that Whipper Billy Watson was an animal, in the ring.
Above is a link to a video made by Igor Enriques of Centennial Sports TV detailing Whipper Billy Watson's career and professional wrestling in Canada.
Here is a classic video of  Whipper Billy Watson vs Chief Chewaki  that thrilled wrestling fans all over the world in the mid 1950s, recorded on 16mm film for newsreels live from Maple Leaf Gardens. Whipper ends the match with a controversial move

More Antique Bottles with Animals on their Labels

HUTCHINSON Colic & Kidney Cure from Brampton Ontario was priced at $1.50 per bottle.
Darren Spindler brought in this Brampton Ontario horse medicine, a colic and kidney cure that he reported as being exceptionally effective.

Brian Johnston brought in the Brandon Manitoba ginger beer bottle below with a beaver arranged like an acorn cap on a beech tree leaf.

Four popular Ontario ginger beer bottles with animals on their labels. This is a quintessential gathering of Victorian ear alcohol industry advertising logos.

NAPOLEON'S CELEBRATED BUFFALO GINGER BEER, sold by N. SARAULT has a boar's head logo and proudly boasts that its 'brewed from pure Jamaica herb'

Milk Bottles with Animals in Applied Colour Labels

Paul Huntley brought in several examples of painted label milk bottles with animals on the logos. The Pelican is a round ACL milk of the 1940 to 1950's era. This bottle was produced for Hoover's Dairy of Port Rown Ontario. It is considered a collectable Ontario dairy bottle and would fetch $200.00 or more at most bottle auctions and collectable shows. "Only a Pelican is proud of a big bill. Economize with DAIRY PRODUCTS."
The silk screening process or applied colour lettering (ACL) for milk bottles was started by Consumers and Dominion Glass companies in Canada in 1939. These bottles were a new technology offered by the glass companies on their dairy bottles, but many dairies opted to keep to the more familiar embossed glass milk bottle with cap seat of the early 1900's right up to the introduction of square milk bottles in Canada in 1949. The silk screening process of annealing paint to glass from a stencil image through high heat temparature was established by the US Owens Glass company in 1937 and adopted by Canadian glass manufacturers for sodas and milks.

Bottle salesman would travel to the various dairies to sell their bottles, and the slogans they offered often had catchy and clever ideas meant to encourage local patrons to buy more milk. The dairy's name, phone number and sometimes location were usually placed on the 'front' side of the bottle, and the slogan on the reverse side. A dairy name on a bottle would help the business collect its bottles back to the facility. As the bottle was the dairy's property, and expensive to produce and replace, having your name on the bottle meant the vessel was more likely to be returned and so could be washed and reused several times extending its delivery life. Average number of trips for a dairy bottle was only about sixty complete cycles, and dairies needed to have at least three glass bottles for every one customer. One bottle would at the dairy being washed and filled, and one in a route wagon coming or going, and one in the patron's ice box. Breakage was highest in the winter months due to the changing temperatures.

During the Second World War, Canada experienced a glass shortage and many dairies adopted a bottle deposit system where the patrons would pay for the milk and a bottle deposit that would be refunded, or not charged in exchange for a full bottle if the homeowner or retail customer returned the vessel. This encouraged the bottle's return to the dairy rather than it being discarded or used for something other than dairy and was adopted into the retail sales system. The bottle deposit charge varied from 5 to 10 cents over the dairy's operating years prior to the carton and jug era of the mid 60's replacing most glass bottle deliveries.  Today in 2013 the four Ontario Micro dairies that still sell milk in glass bottles, and still charge a bottle deposit to encourage the glass bottle return to their dairy only now that charge is $2.00 for the bottle plus an additional charge for the milk.

There is a resurgence of selling milk in glass bottles and buying local that has not been seen since Avon Dairies of Stratford reintroduced horse drawn delivery for a short period in the late 1990's.

The alligator below is NOT a torture device used to pinch fingers, but rather a cast iron cork crimper for apothecaries that had to put fresh corks in small bottles all day.

Post by on Mar 17, 2013