The Old Stone Foundation

F. Matthews hutch minus base found beside the shed in the foreground.Maurice: It all began as a passenger looking out the window, while driving the back roads in a minivan heading for a CAW union drive at Stackpole. I spotted an abandoned property, but it was early March, so the bottles would have to wait.

It was May of 1999 and my brother in law Darren and I quietly searched the barn, several sheds and the basement, attic and porches of the house on the property. In sum total Darren found one F. Matthews hutchison from Brampton with the bottom piece missing behind a shed. The two wells on the property were water topped. While we continued to look for evidence of an old dump, Darren decided to start digging into some metal that was sticking out of the grass in the middle of a foundation, that was partly visible. When we first noticed the stone foundation barely exposed above the grass we both mentally logged it as a possibility.

Well it did not take long before Darren had scratched his way into a pocket of 1920's heavy glass machine made pops. (Mason Beverage, Preston Ontario, Kiss Beverage, Kitchener Ontario and the clear Crushes bottles) I joined him 3 meters east and immediately began to toss out huge rocks, metal and 1950's glass and some plastic. One hour later my huge hole was twice the size of Darren's and all I had was four 1940's cokes, a brown lysol, three large clear Nujol and one small one. We both dug our way to the north foundation wall and then down. The partly collapsed wall made for heavy lifting and tricky digging as more large rocks would come loose. Darren, having filled his first bag with sodas and was now working on his second big bag. He had just dug his second piece of pottery, (a small open crock with piece missing, no marking and a flowered jug marked W.E. Welding Brantford with aPart of the foundation still visible! hole in it). Close to it I pulled out a very heavy Medalta chicken feeder. These were our first pottery pieces, so even in poor condition we were pleased.

It was nearing the five hour mark on the property so we agreed to dig for one hour more. I finished up with a (brown) Kepler,(aqua) Wampole, (aqua) Imperial Extract co. Toronto,(clear) Perfect seal, (brown) E & J Burke, a small (aqua) Rawleighs,(aqua) Northrope Lyman co. Toronto, and a 1920's Nugrape Soda (already had one) which I gave to Darren, who gave me two Sodas. We headed home excited that we had a place to dig and surely be rewarded again.

After work (I finish at 2:30pm) I went alone, and continue to dig east along the north wall, and made the effort to dig to the bottom of the clay floor of the foundation (six feet). My finds became a lot more interesting. I dug the following embossed: 2 "Rosedale dairy" Brampton (block letter), quarts, "Farmers dairy," Toronto quarter pint and quarter pint bowling style, "Pine Hill E. Legg," Toronto quarter pint, 2 "Ravenswood dairy," Toronto quarter pint, "Acme Farmers dairy ltd," Toronto quarter pint, "Acme dairy ltd," Toronto quarter pint, "Roselawn farms Mel 3566," Toronto quarter pint, 3 "Brampton dairy," quarter pints, "White oak farm phone jct 0198," Toronto quarter pint. It started to snow, my hole offered no shelter, and although it was hard to leave, the four centimetres of snow on my head had me packing. Darren received my doubles, but was concerned that at my digging pace I would have the place emptied out by the end of the week. I agreed to wait till the week end.

Still early in the dig not knowing just how much we would earth and rubbish we would move.It was a nice bright Saturday morning and for once garage sales were not on our mind. Darren starting digging west along the north wall, and I continued east. I was having cave-ins so I had no choice but to dig the top layers of trash again. It was none stop crap bottles, I was throwing them by hand because it was faster than a shovel. Darren was more a less doing the same, accept his mutterings were becoming loud and non stop, until he said "screw this I'm starting a new hole". Darren started digging on the south wall going east with me. The race was on and it ended six feet down, half way between the south and north walls and still plenty to dig before we reached the east wall. Although we were trying to mark out a common border, it felt like a race because we were so close to each other. So what was six feet down at the end of this race? A one of kind 1890's A.W. Brown English Ginger Beer - Brampton. This was a first for us, and even though a lip piece was gone on the bottle we knew it was special.

That day I also took home, 4 (aqua) "Paterson's Ess camp & chicor coffee Glasgow," (aqua) "Scott's Emulsion cod liver oil," (Aqua) "Gordon's dry gin London," (green) "Pluto Water, Americas Physic," quart, "Horlicks Malted Milk Montreal," two quart size, "Vita Beverages," ACL quart, 2 green embossed Mountain Dews, "Team,Toronto" soda ACL, (clear) "R E Umberto brand pure olive oil," (clear) "DDD," (clear) "Carter drug co. Toronto," (clear) S.W. Wells & co. Toronto," 2 (clear) "Norway pine syrup," (clear) "RD BB 1912," 3 (Clear) "Dr Bells Medical wonder Kingston," 2 sizes of (clear) "Dr Ellis wave set." Darren ended up with some of my doubles and I received. a clear "O'cedar polish," from him.
Maurice in for a closer look.
The next day I had a union meeting, among other commitments, So Darren dug to the east wall alone. When he reached the wall in the corner there was a staircase with a nest of quarter pints. I later received a HALL'S PURE MILK - Toronto quarter pint and a Caufield's - Toronto quarter pint. Darren discovered a blue lighting ball I had discarded out of ignorance. Darren found a total of fifteen quarter-pints in the East staircase, these were; Silverwood's Safe Milk, Caufield's, Ravenswood Dairy Phone Rand 4673, Pine Hill Dairy E. Legg, Pine Hill Dairy Limited ( script variation ), Hall's Pure Milk, Roberts & Sons Valley View Dairy and a Farmers Dairy.

In the middle of the week I returned to finish off my corner of the east wall. It was another good day for milk bottles. To my amazement I unearthed ACL milks: Borden's - Toronto quart, Rosedale Dairy - Brampton quart, Highland Dairy - Toronto pint and two different versions of the only known Rice's Dairy Toronto pint bottles.

A.W Brown Ginger Beer, the first of two we dug in Brampton.I also found an embossed "Rosedale Dairy
Brampton", (script style) pint , "Whitby dairy Toronto," (script) pint, "Walnut Toronto," pint, "Acme dairy ltd Toronto," pint, "Sutton dairy Sutton West," pint, a large (aqua) "Daddies favourite sauce," and a blob top, (1878-89) aqua "Robert Davies larger beer Dominion Breweries Toronto".

Another Saturday had arrived, and we now had 60% complete, and the west side left to tackle. Darren's north west side seemed choked with broken milk bottles and scurrying mice. Darren kept the only Mississauga Dairy quart milk bottle we had seen ( top broken off ). Darren also kept that day two different ACL Rosedale Dairy quarts in various degrees of decay. Other finds were; Harris & Sons Lakeside 2392 half-pint, Acme Dairy Ltd. half-pint, City Dairy half-pint, Hamilton Dairies Ltd. quart, Price pint, Rosedale Dairy pints in script and block versions, Brampton Jerseys pint and a Caufields pint.

I was back into the 1920's sodas, with "Verner's ginger ale Toronto," "Chas Wilson Toronto," and a "Thompson & Wilson - Glen Williams," embossed bottle. Embossed milks: "Hillside dairy JMC Kenzie & sons Toronto," quarter pint, "Harris & sons lakeside 2392, Toronto," quarter pint, "Rosedale dairy Brampton." script quart, "Donland dairy Toronto, half pint, "Elmhurst dairy ltd Montreal," half pint, "Rosedale Brampton," script half pint,One of the last shots of Maurice within the foundation. "Brampton Jerseys," half pint, "Brampton dairy Brampton," bowling pin half pint. I still wonder why there was so many different milk bottles. Was it someone's old collection thrown out in the late 1940's?

The next day my south west corner was nearly finished. I had found a perfect dark brown pottery jug (no markings) and a Cobalt blue perfume bottle with glass stopper. I slowly dug north along the west wall until I reached another staircase. In that spot I dug my first Hutchison. A common "Clark bros Toronto," and a blank one with the letters GHS on the bottom. Right beside it Darren dug a "Silverwood's cream top Toronto," script quart which he gave me because he had one already.

On the final successful hunt in that foundation, I dug once again in the west staircase and as luck would have it, behind two huge rocks was another "Silverwood's cream Top" slug plate quart (Darren had one of these as well). To top it off, there was a "Jas Walsh Toronto," hutchison.

Darren would also have one last successful dig and chance encounter with two rattle snakes and a fire chief, but I will let him tell that story.

Here I am with the foundation walls clearly exposed.
Darren: My dig ended as it began with sodas replacing milks. Along the base of the North East wall I found a Thompson & Wilson from Glen Williams, Ontario, Gold Seal and a Pluto Water. The north wall had been leaning in with some loose stones and acting on a hunch I pulled a few stones away finding broken glass. My efforts paid off after removing what was loose by discovering an Orange Real Co. and an aqua O'Keefe's OK Toronto bottle.

Now for a real rare find, a pair of Massassauga Rattlesnakes were resting on the edge of the foundation. We had transformed the area around the foundation into a mound of heated glass with leftover disturbed mice nests. However I was oblivious to their presence until a fire chief appeared out of nowhere and called down to me, "did you make this hole son". "Are those your snakes because if they are they're an endangered species". He may have ask me some other questions but I was still squinting up at him thinking what the hell is he talking about and who is he? My lack of verbal reply brought on his explanation that he was fire chief and that he was scouting the abandoned house for a training opportunity for his squad. I introduced myself and explained my hobby and together we took a closer look at the snakes absorbing the days heat. Outside of the Bruce Peninsula these snakes are a rare sighting indeed because it is commonly believed to be extinct in Peel Region.

We have had some good places to dig, but nothing beats a foundation full of old rubbish.

More Photographs...

Two jugs that were unearthed. Taking a breather! Taking another breather with much more to dig. Maurice sitting in what looks to be a crater. The property then, now as of 2010 new houses are being built here.

This story also appears in the Canadian Bottle and Stoneware Collector magazine volume 8, issue 2 - August 2003.