Four Seasons Bottle Collectors 12 June 2010 Club Dig

The morning of 12 June 2010 appeared grey and overcast. Perfect for digging bottles. The Saturday had been set aside by Dumpdiggers all over the city, earmarked as a day of discovery in the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors 2010 ‘Club Dig’. The secret location was an old dump in the heart of the city of Toronto.

Old and new diggers gathered together to make the trip. The story is recorded in excruciating detail in a story entitled Digging Bottles with The Four Seasons Bottle Collectors in Toronto.


Carl Parsons is a storyteller and venerated member of the FSBC. He’s been an antique dealer specializing in Canadian glass bottles for over thirty years and he knows his way around a couple hundred old dumps in Ontario. He led the tour down into the day’s dig site and alongside ‘Indian” Al Pothier they selected the exact spot based on shade more than anything else… nobody could remember if the exact spot in this site had been dug before, as the dump is one of the oldest in the city, and the terrain is constantly changing.

The crew got busy right away and dug out a large hole. The soil was soft and light, a gentle mixture of sand and ash with fragments of dump – broken china and bits of brick were visible on the shovels.

Tex and Mac were the new diggers and they worked hard sinking the hole down to a six foot depth. Then the guys got busy with hand trowels and garden forks. Carl put on a demonstration to show how he often uses a hoe with holes cut in the blade (to let water out), but today’s dump was dry as a bone. The hole wasnt very deep, about six feet from surface, when Al Pothier declared that they’d hit bottom and now they’d best look to the sides.

Al had a pocket of good dump to the south of his position and Mac and Tex found some hard packed virgin dump to the north of their spot in the hole… but sadly it was under the day’s dirt pile and so any excavation in that direction meant moving the dirt pile on the surface. all the same some old sauce bottles were discovered and there were a few exciting moments when some soda shards and stoneware bottoms were spotted in the virgin dump tract at the bottom of the hole.

You can read more of the day’s adventure in Digging Bottles with The Four Seasons Bottle Collectors in Toronto in the Shovel Guild Library on Dumpdiggers.com

The 2009 Toronto Bottle Show

At 6pm on Saturday April 18th the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors Club was busy setting up their annual show and sale. The Toronto Bottle Show is the largest antique glass bottle and pottery exposition (and tins, stoneware, insulators, ephemera and so much more) in Canada, with approx 75 antiques dealers and impressive attendance. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the empty gymnasium as I looked at all the empty tables… In just a few hours the dealers waiting outside would enter and display thousands of historic antiquities for show, sale and trade.

Saturday Night Set-Up
I laboured right alongside the other members of the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors Club on Saturday April 18th to help set up the show. The entire episode is the subject of this article, Dealers Night at The Bottle Show which also chronicles the excitement of watching Malcom and Newf unpack and sell three years of dug treasure to ready buyers and collectors that were the other dealers.

Sunday’s Bottle Show
On April 19th 2009 the morning sun warmed the faces of several hundred people outside the gymnasium at Humber College in Rexdale, Ontario as they waited to enter the building and marvel at all the beautiful glass inside.

Dealers included,
Michael Anders,
Dean Axelson and Judy Axelson,
John Barclay and Marie Renault,
Brett Bloxam and Jackie Bloxam,
Robert Brak and Linda Brak,
Mark Clayton and Candice Clayton,
Bill Cook and Bill Ash,
Abel DaSilva and June Ng,
Ron Demoor and John Dunbar,
Mike Emre and Barbara Emre,
Bob Falle,
Ray Ruddy,
John Finlay, Dave Marrotte,
Dwight Fryer and Earl Fryer,
John Goodyer and Mark Wilson,
Frederic Hartl and Jean-Marc Helie,
Bob Hayward and Tyler Hayward,
Grahame Hudson and George Jones,
Ron Hunsperger and Russ Hunsperger,
Barbara Jackson and Randall Mathieu,
Adam Jarzabek, Steve Vasda,
Marcus Johnson,
Scott Jordan and Paul Marchand,
John Knight, John Knight sr,
Robert Lloyd, Blake Woods,
Ed Locke, Sheryl MacKenzie,
Tim and Jim Maitland,
Michael Malanowski and Caitlin Malanowski,
Terry Matz and Evelyn Matz,
Malcom Mcleod and Newf,
Jamie McDougall,
Glen and Cynthia Moorhouse,
Morris Marlowe and Wendy Marlowe,
Steve Mouck,
Robin Newton-Smith, Richard Clark,
Jason Pfeffer and Barb Pfeffer,
Norm Playtor and Jackie Playtor,
Collin Potter and Jennifer Potter,
Michael Rossman and Jan Rossman,
Fred Spoelstra and Bill Comer,
Cliff Stunden and Donna Stunden,
Scott Wallace and John Wells,
Roger Warren and Carol Warren,
Jack Welton and Judy Welton, and Kert Wrigley.

Readers can find more pictures and stories documenting the 2009 Toronto Bottle Show in the Dumpdiggers Library.

Have You Ever Met A Borosilicate Lampworker?

Dumpdiggers met Neal Kuellmer, a borosilicate lampworker at his home studio on a rainy day, March 4th, 2009. He explained to me how lampworking is different than glassblowing; it requires a fraction of the energy and produces different results. Today its used to make intricate but functional art glass, jewelry, pipes and bongs.

Artist Neal Kuellmer of Metamorphosis Glassworks provides Canadian society with custom glass and functional art from his studio at 146 Brock Ave just north of Queen St W (other side of the bridge just past the beer store).

Unit 303 is at the back end of the top floor of an old industrial building (owned by Mervin of course) right off the railroad tracks opposite a primary school. The building is probably one of the last ‘artist communities’ left in Toronto, a city where sky high real estate prices have converted almost all of the old manufacturing and warehouse buildings into expensive urban condos. But this building proves there are still pockets of independent art production and manufacturing software, here and there, all along Queen West.

Neal has about twelve hundred square feet and two big windows under a metal roof upon which the rain outside beat a steady tattoo. Neal has the place all to himself, a creative domain in which to make his daily bread. The guy is pretty cool, he offered me a cold beer as soon I walked in the door and the beats were pumping. He posed for some pictures by the window before we got busy in his shop.

Neal doesn’t have a big blast furnace like the glassblowers at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre, but rather he uses a fat propane torch fixed to a bench. As I watched he worked a lump of material with glass rods – but I didn’t give him time to do anything fancy. Nor did I pause to learn anything about the processes; I’d have to experience it all over again to really understand it. While researching the subject however, I did find a great page on the history of lampwork in the Online Glass Museum.

Here’s what I do know: Kuellmer of Metamorphosis Glassworks makes functional art, jewelry, and ornaments to suit the public. He sells most of his work in shops along Queen St West and in special shows and exhibitions, some of which occur at his studio. Borosilicate glass is a type of glass with the main glass-forming constituents being silica and boron oxide. Borosilicate glass was first developed by German glassmaker Otto Schott in the late 19th century, and sold under the brand name “Duran” in 1893. After Corning Glass Works introduced Pyrex in 1915, it became a synonym for borosilicate glass in the English-speaking world. The European manufacturer of Pyrex, Arc International, still uses borosilicate glass to make its Pyrex glass kitchen products.

This coming spring and summer, Neal is opening his doors to the public, and will be sharing his studio and his experience with students. Do you want to make your own earrings? or how about a hanging mobile for your kitchen window? Neal is now taking appointments for one on one classes – that’s the best way to learn the art and science of borosilicate lampwork. Very small classes (only one or two people each time) will be given five hours of information and practical execution, for one hundred dollars each. This fee covers all expenses and materials, anyone interested in learning the craft can email metaglass AT gmail DOT com.

Dumpdiggers joins the Four Season Bottle Collectors

Saturday Feb 21st, 2009 at 7:02pm, Rob Campbell (that’s me) sat alone in Meeting Room #1 at Arbor Heights Community Center at Wilson and Avenue Rd in North York (northern Toronto) waiting for the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors to arrive.

This night was supposed to be their monthly club meeting? But one look out the window told me things might have changed. The weather outside was awful, and only getting worse. Eight inches of snow had already collected on the roads, snarling traffic throughout the GTA. I looked at my watch again; perhaps the meeting had been canceled?

Two minutes, to my relief Carl Parsons and Glenn Moorhouse strolled into the meeting room toting large Tupperware containers full of bottles, coffee and cookies. They were surprised to find me in there waiting, especially since we’d never met before.

In the next few minutes a dozen people arrived. More tables were set up, and the meet and greet centered around the collectibles on display between the windows, and the coffee pot in the kitchen.

Although I was a complete stranger to them all, I didn’t have to introduce myself. Everyone already knew who I was. Most had been to website, or read this blog. Some had seen Nancy J White’s Jan 24th 09 Toronto Star article entitled Dumps, A Window To The Past, and some of those folks were a little ticked off.

When Mike Duggan made the association he gasped, ‘Oh so you’re that Rob Campbell? I want to strangle you’, and then he proceeded to list all the mistakes in that story.

I listened patiently. Everything he said was true. And I know deep down they all wanted to like me – bottle collectors want young blood around to mentor and shame. Everything went very smoothly after I took out my wallet and officially joined the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors. I paid $25 to become one of them, for a year.

“I’ve built Dumpdiggers for you” I explained later, “and now I’ll donate time and energy to share this web enterprise and help the subculture. Look upon Dumpdiggers.com as Rob Campbell’s contribution to the Four Season’s Bottle Collecting fraternity. Send me any messages you want broadcast.’

Four Seasons Bottle Collectors, 21Feb2009 Meeting

After the monthly Business Report and the Treasurer’s Update, the president Jamie McDougal once again brought the group’s focus back to me, the new member. What did I collect? How can they help me? And that query put the focus squarely back onto Dumpdiggers and all the wonderful things an enterprise 2.0 interactive website can do to help grow a bottle club. It was determined then that I should speak on the subject at the upcoming bottle show – I agreed.

Anyway, I got yet another chance to illustrate Dumpdiggers.com functionality when Glenn Moorhouse revealed he was selling bundles of vintage club newsletters, full of unique information, for approx $25 dollars each. “Why not sell smaller downloads for five dollars each?” I interrupted. The process would be simple enough – scan the newsletters and then convert the files to pdfs. These are called ebooks, and they’re a great way to share information and increase a customer base at the same time. IN this case it would be a great way for collectors all across Canada and the United States to access and consume the rare information, and the club could make a few bucks every month for doing nothing.

At halftime, the business portion of the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors meeting culminated in a dollar per ticket raffle for a mysterious prize.

Darren Spindler won the draw. That was exciting. Carl Parsons stood up and presented Darren with an attractive old English whiskey jug. The pottery had a cobalt blue glaze top and looked rather fancy – but I don’t think it was worth very much.

Here’s Darren Spindler. He’s one of the people I most wanted to meet. His Early Canadian Bottle Works website has always impressed me. It’s a nice clean website, simple and socially relevant at the same time. And the digging stories are terrific. I look forward to more cooperation with Darren in the future – maybe we’ll even get together dig someday?

Then the gathering turned to Show and Tell – this month’s theme was “Things We Love”, and for the next hour it was easy to see the passion that unites these people. Darren Spindler stood up first and described the five different things he brought – the most interesting of which was a framed Griffin Bros promotional material (a go-with?).

Melissa Clare went next and showed us a hot watering can, and some tins emblazoned with white roses.

The president of the FSBC, Jamie McDougal followed Melissa and described his favourite things; assembled on the table before him was an amber Dahls Ink, a tiny Hudson’s Bay extract bottle (turning amethyst) and a vault light (luxfor – which is a piece of glass designed to transmit light into buildings), that captured everyone’s attention. After some research, I found this page which explains vault lights.

Last to present at 9:45pm, Sean Murphy detailed his display. He held up some green glazed (undercoat) crocks and jugs from Peterborough Ontario, an aqua fruit sealer with the correct metal ring and top, and some spectacular yard sale finds including an original but unsigned water colour painting of some quality.

At the conclusion of my first meeting as a member of the Four Season Bottle Collectors club I promised to write about and help promote the upcoming 16th Annual Toronto Bottle & Antique Show and Sale – Canada’s Premier Bottle Show Sunday April 19th 2009, 9:30 am – 3:00 pm, Humber College Gymnasium, 250 Humber College Blvd.

www.canadianbottlecollectors.com

He’s Lucky in Toronto

Fresh from Vancouver, Lucky Peterson is a 30 year old visual artist that just emigrated to Toronto’s prosperous art scene hoping to do more gallery shows, get more commissions and sell more paintings. It’s true, sketching and carving wood are his foremost passions, but when Dumpdiggers visited this guy in September, we were quite surprised to find his art studio is absolutely stacked with historic pottery! It turns out that Lucky has a collector’s bug and a (perfectly natural) obsession to locate, excavate and display historic stoneware and early Canadian glass.
During daylight hours inside his cozy little workshop, Lucky carves and paints wood cuts and manufactures high priced art for rich American patrons. But at night he transforms… on hot summer evenings the bottle bug seizes the boy and sends him out with a shovel. He rides a bicycle around the oldest parts of town looking for angles and perfect opportunities to step back in time – looking for a subterranean adventure and the possibility of liberating more historic Canadian stoneware from obscurity.

In the quiet evenings Lucky is a lonely digger that explores the city’s oldest dump sites and digs deep holes in Toronto’s lakeshore. Lucky digs on weekends, and whenever nobody (site security) is around to bother him, or ask questions. And he’s pretty secretive about his locations, but willing to share a spirited dig with anyone bold enough to contact him. You can find him registered as Lucky on Dumpdiggers.com

After a very busy summer here in Toronto, Lucky has unearthed some pretty special pottery to add to his growing collection. He’s found the ubiquitous Vernors and the Wilsons (with the squirrel) and many fragments of other early but common stoneware vessels. And he carefully adds these to the Quebec bottles, and the Vancouver ginger beers that line the top shelf of his emporium.
Lucky is a veteran digger with soy sauce crocks and opium pipes from old town Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. He has Hutchinson sodas from New York state, druggist bottles from Montreal and stoneware ginger beers from all over Canada. Like most diggers he started as a boy and has found something decent everywhere he has lived. He has pocket watches and porcelain doll heads, cobalt blue poisons and chinese pill bottles, ceramic tooth powder lids, tins, trade cards, and vintage metal signage.

The solution for Lucky is easy because he has such an obvious if unusual passion. So of course he should harness the global market on the internet. He needs a custom e commerce solution because some web development Toronto will help him share his expert knowledge while selling glass bottles and adventure stories on the internet.

Although a seasoned collector with some nice pieces, Lucky is a web rookie with few online contacts. He doesn’t know much about eBay, or how to buy and sell bottles in auctions. And that’s because he works primarily as an artist making pictures with paint brushes and carving wood into Hieronymus Bosch inspired three dimensional art pieces. He only goes on the computer to use Photoshop, and only goes online to send emails. Consequently, Lucky has very little concept of what his collection is worth, which is fascinating to me… The passionate man collects and enshrines his great ‘moments of discovery’ without really knowing, or actively seeking to know their true market value.

Another fact remains, Lucky doesn’t tumble his glass or repair his pottery or even clean his collection very well… Yet he admits it’s a skill he’d like to have. Dumpdiggers promises to report Lucky’s progress as a collector, and relate the most basic steps he takes to improves his best pieces.

Cleaning Up after Toronto’s Caribana Parade

Scavengers spend Sunday morning sorting through the remains of Toronto’s Caribana parade. On Sunday Aug 3rd at 9:30 am the entire west Toronto lake shore (a green space bisected by a bike path between Exhibition Stadium and Sunnyside Pavilion) was strewn with ALL MANNER of garbage! It was like the park had a ‘hang over’; the desultory scene evidenced a wild party. Toronto’s Caribana revelers must have stayed late into the evening. And then in the morning an army of garbage pickers created a real mess as they overturned trash cans and combed through heaps of rubbish on a quest for recyclable beer and wine bottles. Although the Caribana parade has struggled with its finances in the past, organizers believed this year’s event would turn a profit – it must have. I know the island flavoured festival received increased funding this year because there were more sponsors – gun violence, and severe traffic jams due to critical lack of planning blemished the corporate politics of the previous Caribana parades. Official reports are that tourists who come to Toronto for the gigantic celebration pump almost $300 million into the local economy. There sure do make a lot of unusual garbage. Among the white shopping bags and Styrofoam containers, there were lots of crazy costume remnants and cool signage, unusual colored fabrics and sticks and broken lawn chairs. I saw an inflatable pool, a bent unicycle, and lots of single shoes and sandals – it must have been quite a party. You couldn’t rent this stuff at a Toronto party rentals store… it had to come from home. Black garbage bags filled with fried rice were split open and some of these bags looked like they’d been stepped on a thousand times – I’m sure a food tent had been erected in the vicinity. Hundreds of green coconuts were lying open twenty feet away – this was no doubt the remains of an all natural fruit drink stand. Farther up the path the lawn was absolutely overflowing with debris and the wind was pushing it everywhere – the nearby garbage cans had been turned on their sides. It’s quite obvious that scavengers picked through every single garbage can in their unquenchable thirst for recyclable beer and wine bottles. And I spotted a few stubbies and some questionable foreign beers that had been left behind by the experts. Dumpdiggers would like you to imagine the Brock St. beer store, at 10:55 am on Sunday morning. That place must have been jammed with people returning thousands of beer and wine bottles. This Toronto City Worker wouldn’t stop to pose for photos. Apparently the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller specifically asked today’s clean-up crew not to allow themselves to be captured in photos or to make any comments to the media. I merely asked her about the different types of scavengers about, and I could see that see wanted to tell me something… I asked some more questions and came to learn there were indeed whole families here picking bottles a few hours earlier, and these were followed by a more degenerate sort who harvested food and other amenities. Which brings us to Mr X. At 9:45 am I ran into this hero – a wise old man with the metal detector. Dumpdiggers hoped to celebrate the presence of this high tech smart guy and write about his wisdom in every detail, but that wasn’t going to happen – when he heard the words ‘Dumpdiggers’ and ‘blog’ he practically ran to his bicycle. Here is the absolute smartest scavenger of the day, but he definitely didn’t want his picture taken or his story shared. He refused any insight into his genius. So I can only imagine his routine. He carries a screwdriver as a simple probe and swings his coil over the chlorophyll, listening for the tell tale signs of a lost diamond earring or a gold ring. And coins; I’ll bet he finds lots of fresh nickels, dimes and quarters.
Here’s a question; would the device he’s carrying pick up the signal of a Canadian loonie? I don’t know. What are loonies made of again? I bet it would detect a toonie though as I’m sure that has nickel in it…? right? What are the exact metallurgical compositions of Canadian One and Two Dollar coins? Anybody – reply in the comment box. I wonder how much money he would make in pocket change alone? Dumpdiggers hopes this shy metal detectorist makes more money than the bottle pickers.

Inks Found near Toronto’s First Racetrack

Dumpdiggers walked Queen St west all the way to Roncesvalles yesterday. This part of Toronto is littered with cut-rate junk shops trying to be couture and proffer fine collectibles, but their contents are mostly crap. The exception is Pickwick’s Choice Antiques at 1698 Queen St West. Harold Barrett is an old friend of the Dumpdiggers, and I have personally traded bottles and stories with him since 1996. I see written here on his card that he has been in the antiques business since 1974. Today he sells mostly small furniture and the stuff that young urban professionals use to furnish their 600 sq ft condos, but there was a time when his store was crammed with perfume bottles, pottery, coins, silver cutlery, art deco ashtrays and crystal glassware. Those were happy days when kitsch was cool and old bottles were all the rage. After some easy conversation on the sidewalk I followed Harold into his store and found two crude English inks basking in the sunlight on an oak table just inside the front door. Lyons Ink. Less than 3 inches tall. B.I.M., shearlip. Aqua glass. Embossed LYONS INK in a circular pattern at the base of square bottle. ‘Where did you get these inks Harold?’ ‘They were found by a backhoe operator working near the old racetrack in Weston.’ ‘Hmm… Where is Weston again?’ Inside what is now the City of Toronto, at the intersection of Lawrence and Old Weston Rd, there was once a small mill town on the quiet banks of the Humber river. My research tells me that Carleton Track was located on the southeast corner lots of Keele and Dundas St more than one hundred and fifty years ago. This was the very place in which the Queens Plate was inaugurated on Wednesday, June 27, 1860. Its not really in Weston and not really in Toronto – the Carleton Track was located in between the two urban centers in a place still called ‘The Junction’.
Could these inks have been used by Sir Casimir Gzowski or Thomas Patteson to write to Queen Victoria in Buckingham Palace on April 1, 1859 on behalf of the Toronto Turf Club to petition a plate of fifty guineas for a horse race in Upper Canada? Today the actual trophy, the ‘Queen’s Plate’ they position in front of the TV cameras, is actually a gold cup, about a foot high? It should be called the Queen’s Gold Cup or something more appropriate.
Back in 1860, Sir Casimir Gzowski was a distinguished engineer whose father had been a Polish officer in the Russian Imperial Guard. He wrote a lot of letters and was probably one of the most well connected men in Toronto, which had a population of about 45,000 people.
Here is a photo of Weston Rd in rush hour in the year 1920. Look at how the horse drawn buggies and fine carriages still compete with cars for the road, and I do believe that’s an electric streetcar in the background…? If so that same mass transit system must have connected with Toronto.
Back in 1860, by successfully establishing an annual ‘Queen’s Plate’ incentive, Sir Casimir and Mr. Patteson had made Canadian horse racing “the sport of royalty”.
The Carleton racetrack disappeared as horseracing moved down to the lakeshore area of Toronto to a track called Woodbine (Greenwood) in 1874. A retired innkeeper, Joseph Duggan sold a large parcel of land on what is today Lakeshore Boulevard to gentlemen named Pardee and Howell who ran an unsavory horse racing racket and were soon run out of town. When legitimate horse racing solidified at Woodbine there was both thoroughbred and standardbred races, the latter was harness racing with sulkys. Gambling was tolerated and police were usually present at each match. The Origin of American Standardbred Racehorses According to Betty and Jack on this Ontario harness racing fan site, John Jacob Astor bought an imported British horse named Messenger in 1788 and bred him ‘with any easy equine he could get his hands on…’ and he had some fast children. Over time, Messenger’s sons had foals of their own. One odd looking horse in particular, a big-rumped stallion named Hambletonian, was particularly fast. Over the next 24 years Hambletonian became North America’s premier stud horse producing more than 1,300 foals. Today, the lineage of virtually all American Standardbred racehorses can be traced back to four of Hambletonian’s sons. Bad News! This ink bottle is just not that old. This vessel was made in England in 1885 tops. Veteran Dumpdiggers tell me that LYONS INK is cheap English crap. They look old because they’re so crude, but in fact they are probably turn-of-the-century manufacture. Was this blown into a mold? Yes and yes that crude top was tooled off in the factory and no attention paid to the appearance of the closure as long as the cork fit snugly in the mouth. Because I want to know how much its really worth (if anything?) , I put this early aqua LYONS INK on eBay. DESCRIPTION: Sometimes called a snap bottle, this vessel was made in England in the late 1800s and filled with India ink then packed in wooden gross (144 units) crates and shipped to markets all over the world (in this case, Canada). Sheer top, this aqua colored ink has pronounced vertical ridges on three sides. The fourth side is flat and no doubt once accommodated a paper label. The 3 x3 inch bottle was blown into a mold? I think so. And as you can see in the second picture, there’s some embossing in a circular stamp on the bottom of the vessel that reads ‘LYONS INK’

The bottle is in ‘as found’ condition. The stains and blemishes on the glass are well detailed in the third photo. There is also some recent damage to the top. Does anyone have anything to add about this ink?

The Robert W Campbell Bottle

Dumpdiggers visits the Toronto Archives Three Tuesdays ago, Malcolm Mcleod surprised me with a Toronto druggist bottle on which my full name appears in the embossing. After beholding this relic, I set about a quest for more insight into my own genealogy.
Have a look at this 5 oz medicine bottle. Although a little dirty, its in good condition. The stain from the original contents is still visible inside, and that’s perfect. That’s just how I intend to preserve the treasures – as found. The slug plate on this transparent piece of Canadian history reads: ROBERT W CAMPBELL / PHARMACIST / TORONTO ONTARIO. It actually doesn’t surprise me that there are historic objects bearing my name. As one of Scotland’s most notorious clans, the Campbells dominated the Highlands for hundreds of years, and their great leaders included several Roberts, the most famous of which is Robert Campbell of Argyll. Today, when I type my name into Google, I find there are hundreds of contemporary examples – an actor, an architect, a fiction author and a real estate agent in southern Alabama are the most prolific; the latter owns the web domain RobCampbell.com Generally speaking, the Campbells were always pretty good soldiers, and the surname appears on the rolls of almost every British military episode from 1709 forward… In most cases however, the highlanders fought for King and Country with an eye on settling their own farms in the colonies. Indeed the Canadian government funded a popular TV show about a family of British settlers called The Campbells in the 1980’s. This particular pharmacist, Robert W Campbell lived and worked in the City of Toronto in 1895, and I found that information and more while visiting the Toronto Archives on Friday 13th of June, 2008. I was the first official visitor to sign into the building that morning – the doors open at 9am, and I was there at 9:05.

The City of Toronto Archives is located at 255 Spadina Road, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 2V3. This building is a short walk north of Dupont Station on the University subway line – TELEPHONE – To talk to an archivist anytime during business hours, simply call 416-397-0778. Fax the experts at 416-392-9685. Ask for an archivist named Steve Mackinnon – he’s terrific.

Are cameras allowed inside the archives? Don’t even mention the word ‘camera’ when you visit the Toronto Archives. It’s a bad word. It triggers a conditioned response of ‘No Cameras Allowed!’ This clause ‘special permission required’ is peppered with words like ‘appointment’, ‘request forms’ and ‘fees’… yes the Toronto Archives profits by making photographic reproductions. They charge $25 to lens each piece of public property. Robert W Campbell appears the 1896 City of Toronto records as a Druggist with a business at 398 Spadina Ave, and a house at 41 Willcock St. Below his name appears Sarah Campbell, the widow of another Robert Campbell at 1214 King st West. Then a lawyer named Samuel Campbell, and a school teacher named Sophie Campbell follows him . Thomas S Campbell was a buyer for the T Eaton Company, while another man simply known as Tom Campbell was the chef at the Rossin Hotel. In all, there were over two dozen professionals named Campbell living and working in Toronto in the summer of 1896. I’d like to think this little bottle represents them all, and how hard they each worked to make a name for themselves…

Albert from Golden Treasure Metal Detectors

Earlier this spring, Dumpdiggers met Albert Anderson, the charismatic proprietor of Golden Treasure Metal Detectors – Canada’s premier metal detector dealership.

On the phone Albert’s voice crackles like Jim Rockford’s answering machine, but the resemblance is purely audio; Albert doesn’t look anything like James Garner.
On Tuesday May 6th 2008, Dumpdiggers tripped around to to test some gear with Albert Anderson. We visited a strange site in close proximity to his home. Mr. Anderson was equipped with Troy Custom Detectors, Shadow X5, while Timbits used the Tesoro, Cibola.

Here’s a picture of Albert holding a two-box detector along with his trusty Troy X5, and some other accessories.

Our hunt happened out on the Scarborough Bluffs in the vicinity of East Point Park. The property in question had once belonged to the Bennett Family – they were granted the land in the early 1800’s. One hundred years later, the land was appropriated by the City of Toronto for municipal purposes and this site is the scene of some environmentally questionable activity today. Golden Treasure Metal Detectors is almost certainly Canada’s premier treasure hunting gadget retailer; so it fits that GMTD occupies a converted residential garage in East Scarborough. Although the business has been around for twenty five years, Albert only bought the name and contents ten years ago… Before he owned the place it was operated by a real old timer who was also named Albert. The switch fooled Tim who had purchased gear from the old Albert back in the 80’s. He did a double take when he saw and heard the new proprietor answer to the name Albert – he must have wondered if the old timer had found Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth? Sorry blatant keyword acquisition tactic there. Together we tested Albert’s machines in the open fields near his house. Because it’s only May, there’s no grass or shrubbery to impede the coil swinging or impair the quality of the signal. As we worked, Albert explained that Golden Treasure Metal Detectors is the official Canadian Distributor for White’s Electronics. He is an official Dealer for DetectorPro, Fisher, Garrett, Minelab, and Tesoro. He has something for everyone and commented on how the high price of gold is creating more amateur prospectors – one nugget could pay for your hobby. Other popular trends include scuba diving with underwater metal detectors – Albert stocks everything necessary for this activity too, except the scuba gear. Local Toronto Treasure Story As we walking along the bluffs Albert related a tenacious local myth – the Lost Treasure of Highland Creek. I find it highly unlikely, but the story that took place during the war of 1812: It seems a British sailing vessel was being pursued by an American gunboat and rather than risk capture, they put in to the mouth of Highland Creek on the Eastern most edge of what is today East Point Park. Here the Captain dumped or somehow buried or hid his ship’s cargo. It has been suggested that it was a wide range of treasures, from gold coins to copper kettles and pots. Many people have looked, but nobody has ever recovered any items from this creek. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 altered the course of the river and now the items maybe anywhere in that estuary, if in fact they ever existed. What did we find? Well for once we found exactly what we were looking for, an excellent local metal detector connection.