Collector seeks stories behind prairie bottles

A Saskatoon man is relying on farmers’ collective memory to help him piece together the history of prairie pop bottling companies.

Wayne Westcott launched the Prairie Bottlers Project after realizing there was little information about the embossed and stamped pop bottles he had collected.

“I’m attempting to document the history of local pop bottlers in Western Canada,” Westcott wrote on his pop bottling blog, www.prairiebottlers.blog.com.

“I have a small collection of pop bottles that came from companies in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and can’t find any information about them.”

The dozen bottles in his collection aren’t old Coke or Pepsi bottles.

Instead, they are stamped with names of long forgotten prairie bottling companies such as Drewrys of Winnipeg, Starlight of Saskatoon, Pachal’s Beverages of Yorkton, H.P.’s

(Standard Mineral Water Works) of North Battleford, Laing’s Beverages of Weyburn, Pioneer Brand of the Prince Albert Mineral Water Co. and Jackson Bottling Co. of Moose Jaw.

When Westcott went looking for more information about these companies and struck out he realized there was probably a story to be told.

“That’s a sad lack of history,” said Westcott, a Saskatoon teacher.

Westcott is hoping to tap into prairie residents’ knowledge with stories, memories and photos about local bottling facilities.

“I would like to have some history about them.”

Many prairie towns had their own pop bottle depots in the last century. They would fill bottles and deliver them to corner stores for sale. Westcott remembers paying 10 cents for the pop and two cents for the deposit. He always returned his bottle for the two cents deposit.

“There were an awful lot of little confectioners in neighbourhoods. That’s where, as kids, we used to get our penny candy.”

He would like to turn the initial research over to a university student to complete the work and then send the pop bottles and stories to prairie museums for a travelling road show.

“I’m interested in assembling history.”

Westcott bought many of the bottles when he and his wife owned a wine making shop. They became interested in the unusual bottles and brought them home when they closed the shop.

“Like a dang fool I decided I needed a new hobby.”

Westcott has found information on the Silverwood Springs Bottling Company contained in an archaeological investigation by Stantec Consulting in 1998.

William Silverwood was a livestock dealer who arrived in the Saskatoon area about 1907 and sold bottled water from a spring on his farm. Saskatoon did not have a supply of clean drinking water and every summer it was common to have deaths from typhoid.

Silverwood sold 120,000 gallons of bottled spring water a year for two to three years.

The Silverwood Springs bottling works eventually collapsed when Saskatoon developed a water purification system.

More importantly, the runoff from Silverwood’s large stock barn on the hill above the springs contaminated his water supply.

Westcott said stories like these need to be saved.

  • Ken Homenick

    I grew up in the family owned Seven-Up Saskatoon Ltd. During the 1950′s, one of my side jobs was to sort out the various bottles that came into our plant, that were not our brands. I have some knowledge about all of the bottling plants that were in existence in Saskatchewan during the 1950′s. Our company started out originally as Dominion Bottling Works and they sold 7UP and Dominion Flavors. Subsequently, the Dominion brand was dropped in favor of Mission Beverages. The many brands that we bottled after 1950 included, 7UP, Mission, Orange Crush, Double Cola, America Dry ginger ale, Hires Root Beer, RC Cola and Pure Springs ginger ale. In 1950, there were up to 23 bottling plants operating in Saskatchewan, many of which had a major franchise leading product plus a line of local flavors. Should you wish any specific information, I would be happy to become involved with this research project….Ken Homenick

    • Bill Koe-Carson

      Hi Ken. You seem a wealth of knowledge and I would love to hear what you know of “Rose Bottling Company Ltd” of Prince Albert. I Have an embossed bottle with raised stripes and a large heart with a number of small roses. There is an inverted triangle containing a “C” within it on the bottom, suggesting Consumers Glass Company Limited 1917 – 1961 made the bottle. Found near Nipawin. If you care to respond I thank you in advance. My e-ddress is prospector@hushmail.com

    • John Arendale

      Hi Ken, Would you happen to have a list of the 23 beverage companies you mention in your article? Please let me know. Thanks

      John

    • Wendy

      Hi I just say your posting about knowing about the Swift Current Bottling Works. I just recently found a bottle from there. It Has a red circle on the front that says Drink Bob’s For Thirst. and on the back it says Enjoy the Finest Drink “Bobs” I was wondering if you knew anything about this bottle. Thanks in advance. Wendy

  • Jason D.

    I have a few items you might be interested in, and you might even be able to pursuade me to sell them for the right price. but I’ll send you pics if you want them

    • John Arendale

      Hi Jason, Saw you ad here and was wondering what you might have for sale? Any beverage co. or mineral water openers? Thanks

      John

  • John Arendale

    I am a collector of bottle openers and bottles from the Saskatchewan bottling companies. I do have some duplicate bottles for sale. If anyone has any openers they wish to sell please contact me, especially figural openers.

    John

  • Jason P.

    Hello! I too have been collecting prairie bottles and like the rest of us I would also like info on the history of these bottling companies. I notice the prairiebottlers blog has little to no information. Also I recently aquired a pop bottle that says “Currie and Hassett”. The only info i could find was a picture that had their building in the background on the saskatoon library website. Anyone know about this company. Thanks. Lets make this history known. It would be nice to have a display every few years or so say at the Western Development Museum with this info and displays of bottles and signs and what have you from these companies.

  • Norrie

    Hi I am retiring – moving – packing up essential items —- have several old glass pop bottles that have to find new homes — have several North Battleford H.P’s in 6 1/2 fl oz and 10 fl oz — several Mountain Dew in 10 fl oz —- if interested please email mort1951@hotmail.com for pictures and more info —- also have lots of other brands for sale as well

  • Hazzard Friskie

    Me and my friend found a pachals bottle and we were wondering how much it is worth.if you have any information about the bottle and how much it’s worth please reply back. Thank you