The man who literally wrote the book on vintage glass bottles

If there was an equivalent to Indiana Jones in the world of glass bottle collecting, George Chopping might well be that figure.

George Chopping collected thousands of glass bottles that had been made on the Prairies in the past

Their trash, his treasure

42 years ago
A look at how George Chopping works to collect old bottles in an attempt to preserve their history. 2:45

If there was an equivalent to Indiana Jones in the world of glass bottle collecting, George Chopping might well be that figure.

In 1979, The National ran a profile of the mechanic from Spy Hill, Sask., who spent his spare time collecting glass made on the Prairies.

Reporter Terry Matte had caught up with Chopping that fall, when he was in the midst of investigating the site of an old bottle factory in Beausejour, Man., which had been out of business for six decades.

"For 10 hours a day, Chopping dug for clues to establish exactly what bottles were made here," Matte said, in a report that aired on The National on Oct. 8, 1979.

"Chopping was delighted when he found a complete bottle, but he found only a couple," he added. 

Thousands of collected items

The National reported that George Chopping had collected some 6,000 glass bottles as of October 1979. (The National/CBC Archives)

"Mostly, he found pieces of glass — thousands of them, which he will later sort and use to document the history of the Manitoba Glass Works."

Matte explained that Chopping would end up living in his van when away from home and working on his collection.

He'd even published a book, called Bottles of the Canadian Prairies

'Our Canadian history'

George Chopping had collected thousands of old glass bottles that had been made in the Prairies in the past. (The National/CBC Archives)

To Chopping, these bottles and their surviving fragments were an important part of local history.

"An old bottle to me is very exciting," Chopping told CBC News, explaining that such bottles revealed the industrial and business history of the places where they were manufactured.

The National reported that Chopping had 6,000 such bottles at his home, which Matte described as "probably the biggest collection of Prairie bottles, anywhere."

Chopping said he still hoped to collect more.

"It's all history, all our Canadian history and I enjoy it, you know?" he said.

Chopping would later put his collected bottles and other Prairie memorabilia on display at Old George's Museum and Hidden Village in Whitewood, Sask.

The Town of Whitewood's website indicates that visitors are supposed to call for an appointment to visit the site.

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