Friday, 29 January 2016

Milk and Dairy. The Pott's Brothers wagon.

Although there were many things I was introduced to by my very "pioneer" like grandmother, Edith Ardella Carefoot, there were certain aspects of early Collingwood traditions and practices that I am either fortunate or perhaps maybe unfortunate enough to not have experienced.  One of these is the idea of having fresh milk delivered to one's front door.  I know, what a concept, ha ha!  For the current generation who has come to rely on the 24/7 availability of fresh dairy products at every corner store and market, this would undoubtedly be a foreign or strange concept.  However, "back in the day" as my grandma used to like to put it, there was a plethora of milk producers all within the confines of our local region.

Perhaps one of the most well known of the bunch was the Pott's Brothers, Roy and Reg.  First established by Roy in 1932, Roy was no stranger to the world of dairy products having worked for one of the aforementioned larger members of  Collingwood's own "dairy cartel."  Together with his brother Reg, they started out cautiously by renting a small back shed for their new endeavour for the princely sum of $8.00 a month!  Since the need to be frugal was part of their equation for success, the brothers actually took up residence in a small silo shaped building that was part of the property.  According to popular lore, they affectionately referred to this building as the "roundhouse."

Not only were the brothers industrious and determined, they were also quite financially savvy.  To ensure that their fledgling business was a success, not only did they work at it, they also continued working for others so that they could raise capital for their business venture.  Besides real estate, the other necessities required were obviously electric and water, and they soon had these key items up and running.  Thus established, this gave them the needed momentum and readied their bottling operation further.  Thankfully, milk producers in that era were plentiful,  and soon they were receiving supplies from one George Conn of Craigleith.  The cost was an astounding $1.45 for 100 pounds of milk, unbelievable in our age where you can't even purchase a pint for that now piddly amount!  

Refrigeration in the mid 20th century was an issue.  The freezers we take for granted today were still in their infancy and a luxury item.  Most folks then relied on cold cellars and iceboxes that were stocked with blocks of ice that were cut from Georgian Bay during the winter months.  These blocks once cut were then stored in cool areas packed in straw or sawdust to keep them frozen.  Try putting a dusty ice cube in your drink!  As the brother's operation gained more success, the need for additional storage soon became an issue.  Because of this, they ended up renting an additional building that was devoted to the storage of the aforementioned ice.

For the first three years, Reg Pott's made their deliveries by bicycle.  However, as their status and success grew, it soon became necessary for a more efficient delivery mode, especially in winter.  With that came the horse and wagon that I have featured here in my sketch.  It was a very beloved and familiar sight on the streets of Collingwood, and I fondly recall my grandma telling me how one would leave out their empty bottles on the front porch, and they would exchange them for full fresh ones.  The bill would come once a month, and at that time you would "settle up" your account - no credit check necessary. 

The business continued to grow, and in 1945 the brothers took advantage of the ideal opportunity to purchase the Bayview Dairy.  With that acquisition begat the very popular and much loved "Pott's Dairy Bar."  At their peak in the 1950's and 1960's, the Pott's Brothers delivered milk and dairy products to over 2,500 local customers.  The advent of the corner store and the supermarket unfortunately rendered this kind of enterprise to the annals of our past, but there are many who look back fondly at this glimpse to a much simpler time.

I hope you enjoy this post and my artwork, and thank you for reading.


Sandy .......


  1. Brings back lots of great memories of growing up on Fourth Street. Thanks for taking the time to post the blog and the artwork.

    1. Your very welcome! I'm happy you enjoyed it and that it stirred some fond memories for you. Thanks very much for reading!