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

Antique Paper Label Whisky Bottles on Permanent Display in the Distillery District of Toronto

Fifty vintage whisky bottles show some of the alcohol products that were made in the Distillery District compound and distributed all over the world. 

At the back of Pure Spirits seafood restaurant, between a coffee shop and underneath a content marketing ad agency there are fifty paper label whisky bottles in no particular order and with no information besides their beautiful labels. Ballantines Scotch and some of the more recognizable brands were bottled here, the liquid coming in wooden casks from Scotland.  Each bottle has a different story of course, some of the most unlikely spirits were actually made here (rum and vodkas) while some simply used the bottling plant. Obviously whomever made the exhibit was just trying to put some merchandise on display.

Here are some of the bottles that show the evolution of the gorgeous Gooderham and Worts labels which proves that someone at the company was beginning to think about the brand. The green Lemon and Lime ‘Tom Collins’ Mixer bottle hails from a different age when highballs were very popular and almost everyone drank after work. I remember from my bartending class that the Collins were brothers and Tom drank gin while John drank rye.  Tom Collins is still remembered today, while John Collins rye drink is a distant memory. 

G&W whisky was carried to the most remote regions of the world and so names like
Government House, Twin Seal and Bonded Stock had additional meaning as secure from counterfeit.
Prince Regent G&W whisky bottle by RoberrificThe Prince Regent brand of whisky was very popular in Canada and helped make Gooderham and Worts  with its black and white stallions around a red G&W stamp into an easily recognizable brand. The idea that a Prince had his own private stock of whisky appealed to Canadians, who all wanted a taste.

Prince Regent G&W whisky bottle, a photo by Roberrific on Flickr.