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

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