My great, great, great uncle, John Leeming kept a diary as he travelled throughout Upper Canada in the autumn of 1840. Since the trip combined business, personal and general interest, he recorded a great variety of observations. One of these concerned the conditions of the roads.
“But bad roads are a real evil in summer, for when rain has fallen the roads are next to impossible. Government have spent a deal of money on macadamizing and great good is the consequence,”
Would you please explain the term, “macadamizing”. Robert Leeming St. George, Ontario
Macadamized roads were constructed first of a base of large crushed stone. Then progressively smaller and smaller layers of crushed stone would be placed on top of that base.
The final layer was the powdery material left over from the crushing of the stones. Once the powder was exposed to rain water; it would dry to a concrete-like surface. The road was constructed so that it was slightly higher in the middle, forcing rain to run off into the ditches.
The corduroy sections of the more primitive roads were such a danger to horses that farmers were forced to use plodding oxen to pull their wagons. Now, on the macadamized road they could use horses and cut their travel time in half. editor
I have enclosed a picture of a bottle that we discovered in our old house. This bottle is heavy. It is a beautiful colour. For some reason it is unable to stand upright. Obviously, there must be a history to this bottle. What can you tell us? Is it valuable?
The bottle in your photograph is a torpedo bottle. They were first created in England by the Schweppes Company in 1794. Schweppes, one of the first producers of soda water, found that because the carbonation in the soda water was under pressure, it readily leaked out around the cork. To ensure that the cork remained moist, the company developed a bottle that would not stand up. This moist cork in turn prevented the leaking of the carbonation.
In the 1850’s, the neck of the bottle was thickened with the addition of the blob top – a thick band of glass around the lip. This blob is clearly evident in your photograph, indicating that your bottle is from the last half of the nineteenth century. The blob neck distinguishes newer from earlier torpedo bottles.
The bottling companies retained ownership of the bottles. The consumer was expected to return empties which were reused many times. This led to excessive chipping and other damage to the bottles.
Torpedo bottles such as yours would sell in the ten to twenty dollar range.
Earlier bottles from the pre-blob era; bottles in pristine condition; bottles that are embossed with a manufacturer’s name or have an unusual colour would be worth considerably more.