ECD glass mirror soda flavour sign. Due to their fragile nature, few have survived.

ECD glass mirror soda flavour sign. Due to their fragile nature, few have survived.

There is a wide array of items that a collector (serious or otherwise) may acquire as a novelty to have on display, as an attractive “piece of art” or as a source of reference for dairy collectables or for dairy history research. This article is intended to cover these sectors and to bring the reader into contact with some samples.


Carstairs Creamery bamboo wall hanging and NADP framed Nu-Maid butter sign, c. 1940.

First off is an Edmonton City Dairy mirror ice cream flavour display sign. The one shown here is a colourful item, albeit heavy and fragile. Because of its nature (a mirror) it is rare and few have survived. ECD was Edmonton’s largest dairy and produced a large amount of ice cream confections and butter. This colorful signage piece was eye-catching in its hay day, and a pleasant historical display piece today.

A framed NADP Nu-Maid butter sign with a daily price element is a nice decorator piece. It has nice graphics and perhaps dates to the 1940s. The Northern Alberta Dairy Pool was formed in 1928, was Edmonton based, and grew to have a large network of creameries and dairies across Northern Alberta. When Silverwood’s, then the owner of ECD, got over-extended in 1976, NADP purchased ECD.

The scenic bamboo wall hanging is from Carstairs Creamery when Kent Winding with the proprietor from 1951 to 1970s. The hanging has a peaceful picture of swans, a sailboat, a church on a lake with a mountain background. The creamery dated from 1925 when it was built by Central Creamery (Peter Pallesen) of Calgary.


Campbell & Griffin ltd three-dimesional Calgary wildlife pictures.

Pavan Dairy scenic glass wall hanging with chain border

Pavan Dairy scenic glass wall hanging with chain border

A series of three dimensional wildlife / sportsmen pictures were distributed by Campbell & Griffin Limited of Calgary to promote their products. Over the years I have acquired eight different pictures. This company started in 1925 and was a wholesale produce operation including fruit and dairy products. I believe it sold its dairy routes in the late 1920s but was still in business in the 1930s after both Campbell & Griffin were no longer there.

Another very attractive wall hanging, this one made of glass framed with a fine woven wire chain, was issued to customers by the Pavan Dairy of Lethbridge. Joseph and Maria Pavan started the family dairy in the early 1920s. Door to door delivery continued until 1942 when the shortage of men caused them to shift to being a producer supplier to Purity Dairy. Joseph’s sons carried on with the dairy farm until 1973.

The ECD flange sign (straightened) in my collection is an interesting item with the spelling error in Edmoton. This sort of sign was fairly commonly used in the 1920s and 1930s. Being an antique metal sign, it is in very good condition for its age.

Velvet Ice Cream was an important value added product for ECD. From the items included in the article and those shown in “The Milk Bottles of Edmonton City Dairy, 3rd Edition”, it appears the product name evolved from ECD Ice Cream to ECD Velvet Ice Cream to Velvet Ice Cream. The flange sign is the only one I have seen. I have seen an ECD Ice Cream door push in another collection. But the event vendor basket for ECD Velvet Ice Cream, the only one I have seen in over 20 years of collecting, may be unique. The basket has suffered from the elements, but the view shown in the photo clearly reflects its former glory.


Left: ECD flange sign for Velvet Ice Cream. Note the spelling error. Middle: Rare (possibly unique) ECD sporting event vendor product basket. Right: Velvet Ice Cream door push. I believe this to be an ECD item.

A variety of door pushes are available at collectable shows. They mostly are for tea or soft drinks. Ones for dairy products are few and far between. I am fortunate to have two, the one shown here which I believe to be for ECD Ice Cream while the other is for Silverwood’s Purity Ice Cream sold in Saskatchewan.


Above: Early aluminum Dixie Cup spoons. The eight on the left are stamped “Woodland”. Below: Milk bottle-top picks, four from Alberta and four from Saskatchewan.

Turning to smaller items, included here is a photo of a supply of aluminum dixie cup spoons. These are the earlier spoons used, with later ones commonly being made of wood. Shown in the photo are 8 spoons provided by Woodland Dairy. Three ECD aluminum spoons are shown on page 41 of The Milk Bottles of Edmonton City Dairy, 3rd Edition.

Milk top picks were important and useful early items provided to customers when the milk bottle tops did not have lifters. One can imagine the weapons used by families to remove the early milk bottle tops. Shown here are smaller picks with only the milk top pick. The larger ones also included a bottle opener. Included in the photo are picks from Peace River Dairy; Mutual Creamery Co., Wetaskiwin; Budd Reed, Lethbridge, and The Producers Milk Company Ltd. Calgary. Other styles of milk top picks are shown on page 38 of The Milk Bottles of ECD, 3rd Edition.

Campbell & Griffin Ltd. thermometer.

Campbell & Griffin Ltd. thermometer.

Several varieties of small thermometers were used as dairy promotional items. Some were framed; some were cardboard mounted. Some simply had the dairy and product name (like the Campbell & Griffin item at the right). Others had attractive scenes. Some had calendars that folded down from the back while others did not. These dairy thermometers items often were useful research sources with the full dairy name, proprietors name and dairy address. With such basic information in hand, the researcher could then search other sources (e.g., local history books.)

Rare early-style needle kit, outside and inside.

Rare early-style needle kit, outside and inside.

Needle kits were distributed by a dozen or so dairies in Alberta and Saskatchewan including Alpha Milk, Calgary; Palm Dairies and Saskatchewan Co-op Creamery. The kits were small cardboard folders with a paper holder for the needles inside. Included here are two photos of a very early version used by Producers Creamery of Lloydminster. This kit has an attractive design and graphics. Others were usually of a simpler style.

1934 Cherry-Burrell catalog is a great find that provides detailed information about a wide spectrum of dairy supplies and equipment. It contains information on the many dairy items used by a dairy or creamery including, bottles, milk bottle tops, milk top picks and many, many other items. The catalogue is an invaluable source to have at hand. Cherry Burrell was one of several U.S. supplier wholesalers that supplied dairy necessities to dairies and distributors in Canada.

Cherry-Burrell Supply Catalog, 1934.

Cherry-Burrell Supply Catalog, 1934.

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