Collectors have a variety of criteria they use to build their milk bottle collections. Perhaps they choose to build a “complete” collection, seeking all of the bottles that had dairy names on them. Or perhaps they prefer only coloured label bottles, or only quart size bottles or only one-half pint bottles to save space.
I my case I chose to collect any of the named bottles used by dairies and creameries in our province. In pursuing that objective I have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to obtain some very rare bottles. Following are comments on some of these bottles.
At the top of the list are Edmonton City Dairy bottles. ECD in its time was the largest dairy in the city. Some collectors like the bottles for that reason, or because ECD bottles are an important Edmonton items. A variety of early ECD bottles, bowling pin (empire) style, several groups of stubby bottles, and several groups of bottles made by U.S. Manufacturers are quite interesting and scarce. The later coloured label bottles, including the quart cream-top are quickly picked up when they appear.
Cream top bottles were not widely used in Western Canada. The largest user of these bottles in our region was the Purity Dairy in Saskatchewan, followed by City Dairy Ltd of Winnipeg. In Alberta there were were three varieties, one variety of the ECD coloured label cream top, the embossed ECD cream top, and Palm Dairies quart and pint embossed cream tops.
The early embossed Woodland Dairy bottles that either have no manufacturers mark, or were made in the U.S. by Travis Glass Co. are scarce. The very early Woodland Dairy – Haire Brothers bottles are very rare. David and Sandford Haire founded the dairy in 1908 and continued as shareholders after 1912 when the dairy was refinanced and restructured.
The North Edmonton Dairy was established in 1909 when the proprietor, William Henshall, started delivery with milk provided by two cows. At that time North Edmonton was a separate village in the Fort Road area. To date I have only seen one embossed quart from this dairy. The Henshall home still stands at 12968 – 63rd Street.
From 1925 to 1935 Harold Jorgensen and Oskar Sorensen operated the Dry Pond Dairy. The farm still operates under that name, in the Dalum area. The lone embossed pint bottle of which I am aware, is labeled Dry Pond Dairy, Wayne. Wayne, near Drumheller, is a very small place, formerly a coal mining center. The bottle was made by Dominion Glass.
There are a small number of Huff’s Jasper Dairy bottles with red coloured labels, and Jasper Dairy embossed quarts and coloured label bottles around, but they are being seen far less often now. Of particular interest is a round quart with a black coloured label, of which I have seen only one. Also rare are predecessor bottles for this dairy, embossed with the name W.P. Huff, the founder of the dairy. These very early bottles do not have a manufacturer’s mark.
The Wirda family emigrated from Finland and settled on a homestead at Rocky Mountain House. From 1936 they operated a dairy route, first delivering by horse and buggy and later by truck. I have seen one bottle from the dairy, a pint, made by Dominion Glass and sold to the Wirda’s by Dairy Supplies Ltd.
From 1915 to 1918 Albert Hepworth and Herbert Trimble operated a “complete dairy business” in Red Deer, including a milk route. In 1918 they sold their dairy assets to Red Deer Dairy Products of which they were shareholders. Bottles from the Hepworth & Trimble Dairy are very rare. I have an embossed pint in my collection and Ken Porter, a Calgary collector, has an embossed quart bottle.
Robert Drummond operated City Dairy, Calgary starting in 1932 from his farm in the Maryland district, east of Calgary. References to this dairy are scant, but the embossed quart bottle in my collection and a registered declaration are confirming artifacts. I am aware of only the one bottle from this dairy.
The attractive bottles with blue coloured labels from The Natural Milk Producers and Distributors Association are a nice addition to any collection. I have seen a few over the last year or two and am fortunate to have two sets of the 3 sizes in my collection. The Association was formed in 1934 by a group of small natural (raw) milk producers, to oppose changes to the milk grading system which would assign a higher grade to pasteurized milk. The group was active through the late 1930s and wound down in the war years.
If any of you readers of these comments have new and additional information that I have not included here, I would be delighted to hear from you.