People collect many things because they are attracted to them for a variety of reasons: colour, shape and size or elements of the design on them. Milk bottles fall in to several categories in these areas.
Clear glass milk bottles were made with many colours of labels. A half dozen or more Alberta dairies used milk bottles with two colour labels. Many of you will be aware of the two colour bottles used by ECD, Woodland Dairy and Palm Dairies. Pavan Dairy, Lethbridge, used bottles with attractive red and green labels, as did Claresholm Dairy on some of their earlier bottles. Purity Dairy, Lethbridge used orange and green labels on some of their bottles. The red and blue Sylvan Lake Creamery quart with the sailboat design is the most eye- catching of this group.
Something different in milk bottles, are the amber (brown) coloured bottles used by Crystal Dairy, Model Dairies and Union Milk. Union and Crystal used quart and 1⁄2 pint sized amber bottles, narrow mouth variety. Model Dairies used the amber 1⁄2 pint wide mouth variety. The amber bottles used by these dairies were, to my knowledge, the only ones used in Western Canada. Amber glass bottles were used more widely in Ontario and the U.S.A.
Ness Dairy of Camrose used green label bottles with two different slogans. One, I believe to be the earlier one, used “Chocolate Milk”. The other used “Chocolate Flavoured Dairy Drink”. It appears that the dairy was required to amend their description of the product.
Hand engraved milk bottles, mostly quarts, used by small Alberta Dairies, appear occasionally. I am fortunate to have one in my col- lection from Strathmore Dairy. George Chopping, in his book “Bottles of the Canadian Prairies” shows others: W.F. Herman a pint, (Black Diamond), McIntosh Dairy (Black Diamond), Nelson’s (Strathmore) and another from Strathmore Dairy. The Glenbow Museum has a hand-engraved quart from Twin City Dairy (Black Diamond). These bottles are very scarce and a welcome addition to any collection.
Years ago I had seen quart bottles from Huff’s Maple Leaf Dairy, but recently I was able to acquire two of these rare bottles of different varieties. Both bottles are quarts made by Dominion Glass in Hamilton. Abraham S. Huff moved his family to Edmonton in 1913 from Chatham, Ontario where he had operated a dairy. Initially he wholesaled milk but as the business grew he started a milk route. In 1950 the family sold their land, to the government for use by the army. The land now on 144th Avenue was called the Greisbach Barracks.
Both history buffs and milk bottle collectors will be interested in the scarce embossed bottles from Edmonton Pure Butter Co. This dairy operated for 5 years out of the historic Hudson Bay Company Barns, now known as the Ortona Armouries. (9722 – 102 St.) Edmonton Pure Butter was sold in 1928 to the Northern Alberta Dairy Pool, one of the three dairy pools formed in Alberta that year.
Bowling pin (Empire) style milk bottles could be a collection unto themselves. These are the earliest style of milk bottle used in Western Canada. As of this writing, I am aware of 10 Alberta dairies that used empire style bottles embossed with their names. Some were used in Saskatchewan including those used by Saskatoon Creamery Co.; Sunny Brae Dairy, Saskatoon; and Sutherland Dairy. I am aware of empire style bottles for Carson Hygenic Dairy, Winnipeg. With my more limited experience with B.C. bottles, I am not aware of any dairies using empire style bottles in that province.
In Alberta, Empire style bottles were used by ECD, Woodland Dairy (Haire Bros.), and W. P. Huff in the Edmonton area, Red Deer Dairy Products, and in the Calgary area by Carlyle Dairy, Lincoln Dairy, Mt. Pleasant Dairy (Bailey Bros.) and Pallesen Dairy. Because of their style, age and history these rare bottles are among my favourites.
Milk Bottles with modified nursery rhymes or rhyming slogans on the reverse, would be another category to collect. These bottles were not widely used. I am not aware of any used in Saskatchewan or Manitoba. In Alberta, Camrose Creamery was one of two users. Two of these examples are as follows:
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Drink your milk, So you won’t get sick.
Once I met a little girl,
Whose skin was fine as silk,
For every day beside her plate,
There was a glass of milk.
Some of the round red label bottles of Huff’s Jasper Dairy had rhyming slogans and modified nursery rhymes. For example:
Little Boy Blue come drink your milk
and drink as much as you can,
there’s nothing is quite as good
to make you a great big man!
More than half a dozen B.C. dairies placed coloured label rhymes on their bottles. Kootenay Valley Co-op Dairy’s rhyme label bottles were the most extensive with over 20 different rhyming slogans. Other dairies in this category included Campbell’s Dairy (Vernon), Enterprise Dairy (Kimberley), DeClark’s Dairy (Ladysmith) and Modern Dairy (Castlegar).
I hope you find the brief descriptions of these milk bottle categories interesting. Any comments or questions you may have would be welcome.