1914 Schoolhouse Candy Container
A charming little item at Grey Roots is turning 100 years old this year. It is a clear pressed glass rectangular container, with a colourful lithographed tin cover on it. The faux schoolhouse has “1914” printed on its datestone. There is an empty little hole at the front top area, where once a lithographed tin flag part would have been (now gone). It was manufactured in Grapeville, Pennsylvannia, by the West Bros. Co. factory, which made a variety of glass and metal candy containers. During the First World War time period, many small figural or novelty glass items containing candy were sold at newsstands and dime stores and catalogues in the United States and Canada. West Bros. Co. apparently sold a candy container village set of 14 buildings, one of which was the schoolhouse. The other buildings in the set were a railroad station, a bank, a drugstore, a City Garage, a Princess Theatre, a firehall for Engine No. 23, a Toy & Confectionery store, a Five & Dime store, a church, and some houses. Each one had cut-out windows in the tin, so that a child could see the candy pellets that would be inside the glass liner. The candy that was within was likely made of sugar, starch and corn syrup, and dyed.
The candy container showed up in Sydenham Township, and belonged to Mrs. Alma B. Stott. Alma Bell Johnson was from the Silcote area, born on May 22, 1909, and was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wilson Johnson. She married Thomas Irvin Stott on June 21, 1945. They farmed at RR#2 Woodford. Thomas originated from North Keppel, where he was born on May 9, 1900, and he was a son of James and Isabella Stott. He would have been about 14 when the Great War began in 1914. One of his older brothers, Robert Stott, served. Thomas Stott sailed for a few years, and worked for a time out west in Saskatchewan, before he returned to the Silcote area, and married Alma. Mrs. Stott also gave the museum a lantern-shaped candy container that she had received as a Christmas gift as a child. It is likely that the schoolhouse candy container had been a childhood gift to her as well. Whenever I see this schoolhouse container, I think of the recent schoolboys of one-room schoolhouses, who volunteered for the “European War”, as it was known in Sydenham in the 1914 time period. I also would guess that Canadian children of the 1914-1918 time period likely did not get much sugar candy when so many factories was switching over to war production, and it was more important to people to send along treats to the boys at the Front (Wrigley’s Gum and cookies, etc. were often sent overseas). The United States did not get into the war until 1917, so West Bros. were able to make quite a few candy containers in the 1910s.
1973.102.021ab Gift of Mrs. Alma B. Stott