The gestation period for my latest literary effort was rather long. Some serious research was started in 2002, but other Alberta-related projects kept elbowing their way to the forefront. As those other books came to fruition, a major commitment to complete the Saskatchewan book was made in mid 2007. It has been a challenge to assemble a substantive collection of milk bottles from another province, and there is also the challenge of seeking out research sources from afar.
As I added bottles to the collection, I became aware of an increasing number of Sask. dairies and creameries that used bottles with their names on them. Contacts with other collectors enabled me to expand and refine the list of such dairies to a total of 65, compared to 85 in Alberta.
Crescent Creamery embossed bottles-half pint, pint, and quart.
Crescent Creamery bottles — half pint, pint, and quart, all embossed, as well as
bottles from Sask Co-op Creamery, Purity Dairy, Palm Dairies, City Dairy Products (Yorkton), Producer’s Creamery ( Unity), in general, tend to be quite common. Collectors need to be mindful however that there were many varieties of bottles from several of these dairies. The varieties include embossed and coloured label bottles and numerous promotional slogans used in the bottle reverses. Some of these varieties can be quite scarce. Examples of some of those seen less frequently are: blue coloured label bottles from Sask. Co-op, cream top bottles from Purity Dairy, some Palm coloured label bottles, Palm cream top bottles and some of the early embossed bottles used by Crescent Creamery.
The stories behind many Saskatchewan milk bottles are as interesting as they are varied. They range from the larger corporate dairies like Purity that was part of National Dairy Corp of Toronto. Purity’s operation in Saskatoon grew from the W.A. Davis dairy started by Walter Davis in 1925. The building he built at 733 Broadway Ave., Saskatoon is still there.
At the other end of the scale were small town family dairies such as the Hudson Bay Dairy at Hudson Bay, (300 km NE of Saskatoon). It was operated by Alex Buchan and his family from 1954 until they sold the dairy to Bell’s Dairy in 1972. The bottles used by Hudson Bay Dairy had the dairy name with an ocean scene on the front and a map of Hudson Bay on the reverse.
Another family dairy was the Savarnake Dairy of Regina. Henry Duck started it in 1933. Later I believe his wife and daughter operated it until it closed in 1947. This dairy used very simple embossed bottles imprinted only with the name on the front.
The Souris Valley Creamery of Estevan was a mid-sized dairy operation that remained independent for many years. It was founded by Ben Grundeen in 1912 and carried on by his son Paul, and grandson Brian into the 1980s. They used attractive red or blue coloured -label bottles when that style of bottle came into use.
The largest dairy/creamery operation in the milk bottle era (up to about 1960) was the Saskatchewan Co-operative Creamery. From its formative roots in 1917 it expanded by absorbing many local creameries and building numerous others. It enjoyed strong government support. Caulder’s Creameries Ltd., controlled by Joseph Caulder, was for several years the largest privately owned creamery in the province. Caulder, who built his company through a series of six corporate entities, competed aggressively with Sask. Co-op until his company and Sask Co-op merged in 1927. Interestingly, Mr. Caulder became President and General Manager of the merged operation under the Sask. Co-op name. He left in 1929 to become President and General Manager of Dairy Corporation of Canada.
As is the case in other provinces, some Saskatchewan milk bottles are quite rare. In several cases, I know of only one or two specimens. Examples are as follows:
Wilhelm Bros. Dairy of Swift Current. I know of only two specimens of the one-half pint bottle, which has a blue coloured label. So far I am not aware of any quart or pint bottles from this dairy.
Sunny Brae Dairy of Saskatoon. At this writing I am aware of only one bottle from this dairy, an embossed pint of the bowling pin style.
For the Premier Dairy of Regina, I have only seen one bottle, an embossed pint. This dairy was operated by William and Beatrice Jones from 1932 until the 1950s.
Other dairies that appear to have only a few surviving bottles are Regina Dairy Co., Rose Glen Dairy (Eston) and Sutherland Dairy. The Sutherland Dairy appears to have operated only in 1913 and ’14. The former town of Sutherland was located east of the University of Saskatchewan and is now part of the City of Saskatoon.
Another interesting Saskatchewan dairy is the University Dairy operated on the U. of S. campus by the Department of Dairying for about 30 years, starting in 1948. This dairy supplied milk and other dairy products for use in the cafeteria and other campus outlets.
As we collectors know, other examples of scarce bottles can turn up at a shop or in an auction at any time. My comments as to scarcity are a snapshot in time based on what I have in my collection and have seen in the collections of others.
From the above brief summary, the reader will have a glimpse into the varied and engaging histories of Saskatchewan’s dairies and creameries. Several mysteries remain to be solved and although I have closed the chapter on this current book project, I look forward to the outstanding answers coming to light in the months ahead.
Milk Bottles of Saskatchewan will be available from Mandolin Books, and from Bob Snyder at Wildrose Collectors Club meetings.