Looking Back


Can You Can It?


A garden was one of the first priorities of early settlers. The produce from that garden helped feed farm families over the winter. Then there was the fruit growing in the wild. Anyone over the age of 40 probably remembers going out to pick saskatoons, wild raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, etc. Add to that chickens butchered or fish caught nearby.


Canning was a crucial component of rural life and at this time of the year, the kitchen was blazing hot while the boiler filled with jars of produce sat on the wood stove for hours on end. Canning procedures evolved over the years but canning jar? Yes, there were different sizes, different means of sealing, even different colours of glass but today's canning jars are basically the same.


The collection at Onoway Museum is only a small sampling of those used. Early jars often were tinted light or darker aqua or blue, green, grey. You can often see bubbles in the glass of these older ones. Over time, only clear glass was used but there was always the brand name embossed on the glass: "Improved Gem", "Mason Fruit Jar", "Ball Ideal" (patented in 1908), "Jewel Jar". Gem, Jewel and Crown were Canadian made jars. Very often "Made in Canada" is embossed on the glass (except for one in the collection showing "Made in Canana". Try to spot it in the display at the museum!


The other source of canning jars was coffee companies. Nabob and Blue Ribbon coffee were sold in jars that were recycled as preserving jars.


The jars had different covers: rounded glass lids held on by a metal clamp, one-piece metal covers or, most frequently, glass lids with a rubber ring held on to the jar with a screw top zinc band.


The jars you have in your basement could well have been used for decades; check them out!

                                        Jars 1908
Gem Jars
Nabob & Blue Ribbon Jars

Ball mason jars patented 1908

Gem jars were wide used in Alberta.

Nabob and Blue Ribbon coffee jars

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Last updated: March 3, 2019