Another Basement Waterproofer Finds Antique Bottles

Basement waterproofers who dig trenches around old homes in historic regions of Toronto very often find valuable antique bottles and early Canadian pottery – that’s not a new story.  Right here on Dumpdiggers blog there have been more than a few accounts of Toronto area waterproofers digging up remarkable relics, while on the job.  Indeed, it was one of these existing narratives that brought another such tale into this temporal tabloid. Chris Cavan from City Wide Group Basement Waterproofers in Toronto struck glass and emailed Dumpdiggers.
 

Chris Cavan, bottle digger, Toronto basement waterproofer

People who collect antique glass bottles, especially diggers tend to poke around online and look for history related portals where their dug specimens maybe depicted and described in greater detail. So it was while researching his bottle booty that Chris Cavan happened across the Dumpdiggers’ blog and reached out for help. After some excited emails with photos, Chris invited us out to the CWG headquarters to examine and elaborate on the history of his burgeoning bottle collection.

Water damage can wreak havoc on basements, and the mold that forms in moist environments can ruin an entire house. 

City Wide Group Inc has been waterproofing Toronto homes for over fifty years. The process requires digging deep trenches around the foundation walls of older building to access and seal up century-old cement. Its when his workmen are trenching close to the house that Chris keeps careful eyes on the soil, and he’s trained his ears to detect the tell-tale ‘tink-tink’ sound of a spade shovel striking glass. If he sees broken bottles and pottery shards in the dirt piles, or even white furnace ashes, or if he hears the tinking sound of metal on glass, then he springs into action and shoos away staff members to take up the shovel himself.

In addition to the silk screened 12 oz Pepsi Cola bottles from the 1960’s and 1970’s , Chris’s bottle collection includes some patent medicines, horse liniments, milks, and a quart sized Milk of Magnesia in a rare ‘bright’ shade of blue. Chris also has old stubby beers, lady’s leg liquor bottles, brown and green three piece wine bottles and a clear palm-sized pumpkin-seed flask.

The sister of this photo below was used later by Lori Bosworth of Torontonicity in her piece about Toronto Tradespeople who find Treasure on the Job which I gave to her along with Chris’s story when she asked about some other pictures for the piece.

Waterproofing your property becomes necessary when the foundation begins to leak or let moisture through, allowing it to deteriorate. House foundations can rather suddenly spring a leak for many reasons, most commonly changes on the surrounding property. A common cause is a congested weeping tile system where the weeping tile can longer flow due a blockage of debris, soils or tree roots. Horizontal or vertical cracks in the foundation, or a separation of blocks can make voids where the foundation and footing meet, and this of course allows water to enter into the basement. Add to that reality, that simple fact that many foundations were not waterproofed properly during the construction process, particularly older buildings. Now you see why City Wide Group is so busy, particularly in the springtime.

City Wide Group has been waterproofing foundations for over fifty years. His operation is one of the longest running and most experienced waterproofing companies in Toronto. Their track record proves they use the best of materials and procedures to waterproof any type of foundation for life.

Chris Cavan, readers – see you at the 2017 Toronto Bottle Show.  The 24th Annual Toronto Bottle & Antique Show and Sale is Sunday April 23, 2017 doors open at 10:00am. Admission is $5.00.  Once again this year the show will be held at the Pickering Recreation Complex at 1867 Valley Farm Road, Pickering, Ontario L1V 3Y7

2015 Toronto Bottle Show, Sunday April 19th at Pickering Recreation Complex

This 21st annual Toronto Bottle Show and Sale is a monumental undertaking by the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors Club and was held this year at the Pickering Recreation Complex located at 1867 Valley Farm Rd.. Much better than previous incarnations, this year’s bottle show was very well attended by the public.

Up from his home near Brighton Ontario, Jason Garrison and his buddy Jim took the time to ponder the piles of glass in Pickering last Sunday morning. These two collectors were among five hundred other antiques dealers, pickers and dumpdiggers who made the drive out to the show.

Doors opened at 9am and the cozy venue was absolutely jammed until 1pm which is when I went about interviewing the media-friendly dealers in the room. I talked to dozens of people, and snapped so many pictures my camera battery died… It was the best hour of my weekend.

Expertly conducted by Four Seasons Bottle Collectors members the show went off without a hitch.

Gary Spicer was the first person I assailed and he spoke to me in between sales. See below I got real close on Gary as he held up a Starr Brothers squat soda from Brockville Ontario that was made and filled with carbonated beverage between the years1860 to 1876.

Gary was asking $225 for this rare ad highly coveted soda bottle.

Gary Spicer has been coming to the show for decades as dealer and consumer;  he’s been collecting antique bottles for forty four years and spend twenty years as a scuba diver, which is a great way to build a big collection. Gary uses the annual show to clear out the clutter from his displays at home and make a few extra bucks to put toward other projects. He was selling some lovely sodas, a few medicines, and while I watched he sold two rare milk bottles to another collector, also from Eastern Ontario.

In very good condition, his Starr bros soda bottle still bears the rusty remains of its 1860s era, primitive cork and wire closure.

Reids Dairy, Tim Maitland, Jim Maitland

Tim Maitland beside his father Jim Maitland holds what he calls a ‘transition milk bottle’ that was made in the late 1930s or early 1940s and has both ACL (Applied Coloured Label) and is embossed with the words Reid’s Dairy right in the glass. And it even has a rear panel with a nurse’s face extolling the health virtues of drinking cow’s milk. This branding combination makes the bottle extremely collectible, and a real bargain at $325.

GUARD YOUR HEALTH / THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR MILK

Here’s a lovely soda from Orangevillo Ontario.

Down the aisle were a couple more diehard diggers, Barret Nicpon (with banana) and Chris Minicola.  Chris collects insulators and bottles
from Peterborough and Lindsay areas, and Barrett collects bottles from London and Strathroy Ontario in addition to insulators.

Chris wanted me to tell you all that if you wanted to find out more about insulators, the 17th annual Perth insulator show and sale is being held on Saturday, May 2nd
from 10 to 2:00 at the Lions Hall at the Perth
Fairgrounds (Halton and Arthur streets) . Admission is free and there
are usually about twenty tables full of insulators for sale or trade along with various displays.

Barrett Nicpon holds up his Canicula brand embalming fluid bottle, which is a ‘mortuary antique’ and quite desirable in that niche. The ‘pleasant smelling’ contents are still in the bottle. $24

Canicula Concentrated Embalming Fluid. Canicula Chemical Co. Toronto On. This is also known a ‘hardening fluid’ in the funeral trade.  Great label.

John Goodyear holds up a lovely 1850s era salt-glazed stoneware finger jug, made for A FOSTER / WINE AND SPIRITS MRCHANT / KINGSTON that he’d purchased earlier that day from another dealer at the show.  Because he was the jug’s buyer and not its seller he declined to give price information, but let me know he got a great deal and was very happy.

Abraham Foster was a grocer who commissioned stoneware to serve his wine and spirits trade in Kingston Upper Canada from the 1840’s to early 1860s. He rented 101 Princess St and appears in this archival record reprinted in the Kingston Whig Standard. “101 Princess St. Built in 1841 by Captain George Smith and let to grocer Abraham Foster.”

John Goodyear is a experienced diver and veteran dumpdigger who has personally recovered much of the stuff on display. He collects bottles and stoneware from Kingston and surrounding area towns, including Preston, Cornwall and Brockville. These are his ‘spare treasures’, and he reports selling soda siphons and quarter gallon jugs before I arrived at his table, and doing rather well, enjoying the curious crowd.

John’s 2015 table wares were festooned by this green glazed Redware architectural finial.

This custom made cone-shaped tip once adorned the peak of an ornate building, or perhaps the posts of an imposing gate or some equally ostentatious structure that needed to make a point.  John was asking $425 for this very unique piece.

David Moncrief is the grandson of John Earl Moncrief, the much celebrated proprietor of Moncrief Dairy in Peterborough and he smiles politely as I make him hold a creamer from the 1940s uncomfortably close to his face. David tells me that before refrigeration there was a local dairy every  few miles as the law forbade long distance transport of raw milk.

David had a steep price tag of $425 attached to the piece because he didn’t really want to sell it and was rather hoping to find the perfect trade.  He brought his son to the show and the boy was so excited he could barely contain himself.

Jamie McDougall behind a wall of antique bottles, perches over his pint sized poisons.

When I asked Jamie what he wanted to show me he smiled and pointed to a nondescript row of transparent medicines at the bottom of the white display case – Hudson Bay druggist bottles. The small vessels were all various shades of window purple, and Jamie says ‘…its a very difficult collection to put together.’  Its also a difficult collection to photograph.

Terry Matz is Canada’s foremost torpedo bottle lover, collector and expert appraiser. Every year he brings a couple mysteries to the show to share with his friends and poll the public for clues. This year he brought a pair of shoes that are also flasks. The Mrs Two shoe flasks are a matching pair with laces on the right and left respectively.

The glaze is not Rockingham, its Bennington.  I asked Terry if these were ‘one of a kind’, and he said they were as far as he knew, and when I challenged that perhaps they would be more valuable if they were a more common collectible, and he replied no, that’s not the case. As unique art pieces they are worth far more than if they were mass produced as part of a production line.

The date 1869 is the biggest clue, and Mrs Two was probably a well to do lady in society and worthy of two shoes full of gin.

I also have to include another lovely pottery piece Terry Matz was selling, a pancake batter jug. Sadly my automatic camera focused on the sign in the background but you get the idea – its like a tea kettle but large with a much bigger spout capable of passing blueberries in batter.

 Its probably French Canadian – on one side of the jug a man is drinking beer and smoking a pipe,

 while on the other side, an older lady is weeping.


Scott Wallace with a rare treasure. This stoneware jug was made for John Morton in Brantford Ontario proprietor of Morton & Company (1849 – 1856).  What’s unusual is the face in the decoration. These jugs have flowers, birds and animals but almost never have have face in the cobalt blue glaze that adorn their sides. The jug is in great condition and will be sold in the upcoming Maple Leaf Auctions for antique bottles and early Canadian pottery

Bob Harris can be seen eating pizza with his daughter in the background, and when I got around to interviewing him he held up a plastic tool box filled with period fishing tackle. He told the familiar story of finding a an old fishing tackle box rusted beyond repair but filled with mint condition fishing lures sinkers and bobbers many still in their original boxes.

Period fishing tackle is a great thing to bring to a bottle show … or is it? 

Tom Holbrook and Ross Wainscott had some lovely cobalt blue apothecary bottles and medical dispenser vessels and druggist bottles. 
This is a rare gem. The four inch square sided ‘hospital bottle’ has a faded paper label, currently being protected under saran wrap, that indicates it once held five yards of aseptic medical gauze. This bottle was made by the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company in New Brunswick New Jersey for the company that became Johnson and Johnson in New York. This jar evidences the spread of knowledge and the war against germs in the 1890s.  People realized that hospital bandages need to be kept clean and dry and free of infection. The price for this rare piece of medical history is $1000.

Here’s a bad photo of Scott Jordan, a well respected collector from Ottawa.

Prompted by my curiosity he quietly brought forth his most expensive treasure which is a square sided four panel medicine bottle ..

I didn’t record its name .. it seems.. but the side of the bottle is embossed, 

Toronto C.W.

C.W. of course means ‘Canada West’ which are magic words to Canadian bottle collectors.

I will leave a blank spot here which I may fill with more information later.. 

The bottle takes center stage in his crowded display case.


John Knight attracts beer bottle collectors and soda bottle collectors by offering them free bottle caps to match their collectibles at home. He has over a hundred or more different bottlers here, and its enough to stop most folks who crowd around looking for their missing crown top sodas and beer bottle caps for the bottles they have a home without such closures. Its a gimmick.

Here’s a crummy photo of John Knight’s best bottle, a green glass soda embossed COPP / GUELPH for which he’s asking $2000.

This lovely pontiled soda was made between 1857 and 1862 and is in great condition today – no chips or scuffs. You can see a terrific photo of a damaged COPP soda bottle that was donated to the civic museum in Guelph and read the comments – its worth a smile.

Here’s a lovely candy dish with a artful decoration made to commemorate the arrival of the steam ship in Little Current, Ont. which is the north bridge port on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.

The Toronto Bottle Show imparts the joy of hunting and finding cool stuff as dumpdiggers hunt through boxes and table displays to find what they need at home.

The veteran collectors gather and chat about their antiques and hint at upcoming trips and bottle digging expeditions to find and dig treasure filled holes in historic properties. This is big leagues show and tell, and I feel privileged to walk among these folks and relate their passion for the past here on this blog.

 The Toronto Bottle Show puts a wealth of information on display.

Watching the Waterproofing Work on What was Once Gooderham and Worts

The nether regions just two feet under the cobblestones of the Distillery District have been uncovered and explored by contractors off and on for the last hundred years, but there’s always lots of little treasures here to uncover…

While fixing the drainage systems under the cobblestone lanes and passages in the Distillery District, the DryShield waterproofing solutions technicians doing this work were focused on excavating the site to install drainage systems, but I went looking for stuff buried under the cobblestones. I found railroad spikes and all manner of round and square nails, bullets, nuts and cotter pins and a key.

The work done here by Historical Restorations  inc is detailed on the Distillery District blog post about pointing bricks on the exterior of Victorian architecture and how that relates to wet basements and spring floods.

Roberrific on Bizcovering writes on how internal gutters are most common remedy for wet basement wall and they are dug below the wall , about eight inches wides or just wide enough to accommodate a course plastic pipe, wrapped in a nylon ‘hose’ filter.

The wall is covered with a thick plastic membrane which really does become a dry shield.

The barrier has specially designed nipples and rivulets that encourage water to flow straight down and into the freshly excavated gutter at the base of the wall.

The internal gutter excavation and ABS pipe installation is part of DryShield waterproofing solution in this residential house basement where waterproofing contractors install the membrane as remedy to moisture on cement walls and excessive run off during spring floods from a shared driveway above.;

Basement waterproofing article on Fuel Ghoul explains how contractors can do the work entirely inside the house. This is a common practice when floods have destroyed walls and water damaged drywall and wet and moldy fiberglass insulation  has to be removed anyway.

Tearing out these walls reveals everything that was in the wall (period newspapers) and used to make the wall or was lost in the wall.  

Experienced contractors look for pennies and coins used to level trim and rings and earrings swept under floorboards.

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