Particulars About Pure Spring Ginger Ale — Jaan Kolk and Linda Seccaspina Historic Rabbit Hole Series

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Particulars About Pure Spring Ginger Ale  — Jaan Kolk and Linda Seccaspina Historic Rabbit Hole Series

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From the Citizen, Oct 13, 1875

Jaan Kolk–Here’s one for you Linda: A ginger ale bottle was used as a weapon in a dispute in Ottawa in 1875 – but that was probably not a world first either @@@

rabbit hole - Google Search | Rabbit hole, Scenery, Alice in ...

I bet it wasn’t a Pure Spring Ginger Ale bottle Jaan Kolk— and with that I could taste a smack of a bubbly after taste of a Ginger Ale no longer around. Suddenly Jaan sent me down the historic rabbit hole again. Linda Seccaspina

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
05 Jun 1929, Wed  •  Page 23

In 1912 the same year that Moses Loeb bought his candy store, David Mirsky, who had been selling food and magazines at the station across the street, went into business for himself. That business was Pure Spring. Like many immigrant children of the period, David Mirsky, a rabbi’s son, went to work at age 14. Beginning as a fruit, pop and magazine the three Mirsky brothers eventually set an amazing record of success in the soft drink industry. The firm founded by their father, David Mirsky, who came to Canada from Russia in 1890. In 1909, when he was 27, he made a living selling five-gallon bottles of water to the people of Ottawa.

The entrepreneurial instincts were strong and Mirsky was soon in business alongside Col. Plunkett Taylor (E.P. Taylor’s father) at the Bradings Brewery, Ottawa’s oldest beer-making establishment. Tapping the spring that flowed down the Branson Avenue escarpment, Mirsky bottled first a water and later the most popular ginger ale in the area. Ottawa: (The Capital of Canada by Shirley E. Woods Jr. (Doubleday)

E. P. Taylor began forming Canadian Breweries Limited (CBL) in 1930, beginning with Brading Brewery of Ottawa and Kuntz Brewery of Kitchener. Years later and at a time when there were about 35 different soft drink bottlers in the city, Dave Mirsky began adding flavor to his pure spring water and putting it into pop bottles–and he called it, naturally, “Pure Spring Ginger Ale.”

Norman, and the twins, Mervin and John, became the principals of Pure Spring (Canada) Ltd. in Ottawa following their father’s footsteps. Until 1949, Pure Spring products were little known outside of the Ottawa-Hull district. Then they sold as far away as the Arctic, the British West Indies and Bermuda.

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Mar 1954, Fri  •  Page 20

It wasn’t just plain tap water but pure water from a spring on the cliff behind the old O’Keefe brewery. With a formula, developed by David Mirsky it became a vital weapon in the arsenal that kept Mirsky’s plant atop the city’s soft drink market.

Mervin and John were identical twins and while both were trained as lawyers, only John made that his chosen vocation. David, their father was president and Norman was vice-president, responsible for product development and quality control. Mervin, was the firm’s secretary, looked after sales and merchandising; and lawyer John was an active director.

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1962

As boys, the Mirsky brothers helped their father on the trucks and in the plant. “We worked on the trucks and we knew every one of our customers”, the brothers said proudly. The Mirsky brothers flare for ingenuity got its first real test during the Second World War. While Lt.-Col. Mervin Mirsky was trouble-shooting Army Ordnance headaches in Europe, brother Norman was solving stringent sugar rationing problems for Pure Spring.

Vintage Pure Springs Soda Pop Picnic Cooler Sign Advertising ...

He imported unrestricted candy from Cuba at 40 cents a pound, while sugar then cost about 5.5 cents a pound. By reducing the candy to sugar, he managed to keep the soft drink company going. Back in Ottawa after the war, with an OBE for his outstanding services, Mervin began to turn some of his army-learned lessons to boosting Pure Spring sales. The little-league firm was going to compete with the industry’s giants, so they might as well act like a giant.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
14 Feb 1946, Thu  •  Page 3

Packaging and bottling first came under Mervin’s review. Before long he lad made Pure Spring bottle caps stand out above others in coolers, by simply using taller, slenderer bottles. Then he found that 30-ounce bottles of their soft drinks moved slowly because, once opened, they went flat too quickly. “We spent an extravagant sum of money to develop a formula that retained the carbonation for at least 24 hours.” said brother Norman.

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Unlike other major bottling firms, Pure Spring was not tied to one set formula, and Mervin’s overseas scouting trips brought Canada two unique beverages: Brio Chin-otto and Gini, which was bottled by Pure Spring.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Feb 1957, Wed  •  Page 26

Mirskys also pioneered canned soft drinks in Canada. The Mirsky brothers’ Ottawa enterprise has two main operations: making and selling soft drinks in Ottawa and within a radius of about 40 miles, and making its own concentrates and syrups to supply licensed bottlers of Pure Spring in Canada and abroad.

King: Finding the spring in Pure Spring ginger ale | Ottawa Citizen

So where was that spring? The Pure Spring Ginger Ale can depicts water over an embankment, by the National Capital Commission in 1938. By 1905, David had found a way to start bottling and selling the spring water that ran off the limestone escarpment near a place called Nanny Goat Hill (what is Booth Street and Albert Street today). In 2015 Andrew King from the Citizen wrote “that fire insurance plan maps from the early 20th century show the brewery, once called the Union Brewery. Outlining the area of Brading, the old brewery was pinpointed along with where Mirsky s spring would have been”.

33. Garden of the Provinces and Territories | Heritage Ottawa
GARDEN OF THE PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES

Construction: 1961-1962
Architect: Donald W. Graham, Landscape Architect | Construction: J.P. Morin Ltd.
Location: Wellington Street west of Bay Street, Ottawa | Bounded by Wellington Street to the north and west, Bay Street to the east, Sparks Street to the south–https://heritageottawa.org/50years/garden-provinces-and-territories

King’s results revealed that it was near an area now called “Garden of the Provinces” in Ottawa–at the corner of Bay and Wellington, bordered by a limestone embankment known as Nanny Goat Hill.

beerrr

With the old Brading Breweries building located, King visited the site and followed the limestone escarpment said to contain the spring that Brading allowed Mirsky to use. The area is heavily overgrown and fenced off now, but directly across from what would have been the old brewery, a curious structure emerged from the foliage at the base of the 10- to 15-metre escarpment. Behind some shrubs, an old stone and mortar structure rising from the base of the cliff, about five metres up its face, was visible, accompanied by the sound of rushing water. Sometime in history, someone built a stone enclosure around the base of this cliff containing what sounds to be a water source underneath a concrete hatch on its top surface.

Cathedral Hill in Ottawa, ON | Prices, Plans, Availability

Nearby there is a City of Ottawa water-management building with hatches to whatever lies underneath this stone column against the cliff.  Above this stone column, a plot of land remains vacant beside the new Cathedral Hill condos, unusually undeveloped, but logical if there is an underground spring below it. A fence prevented any further inspection.

In 1962, Mervin’s father and brother John both died within a short interval and when Toronto-based Crush came up with the right price, it seemed an appropriate time to sell. Mirsky stayed on as Pure Spring vice-president and now runs the plant with a loose rein from Crush headquarters. The famous spring today remains hidden, and I feel there should be some sort of historical plaque there– if it still exists. It’s what made Pure Spring.

The most interesting thing I found was about an iconic restaurant family had some pretty bad beginnings with ginger ale.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
20 Oct 1931, Tue  •  Page 2
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
07 Feb 1922, Tue  •  Page 3

Jaan Kolk

In Ottawa, James Buchanan was selling ginger ale imported from Belfast in 1866. Ginger ale can be found advertised in Ireland and Scotland in the early 19th century. Here’s a Citizen ad from July 5, 1866:

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Citizen ad from July 5, 1866
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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
28 Jun 1879, Sat  •  Page 3
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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
20 Sep 1941, Sat  •  Page 5

Jaan Kolk Ads for ginger ale can be found in the Aberdeen Journal and General Advisor for Northern Scotland as early as 1818. Here is an ad placed in the Belfast New-Letter, June 27, 1834, by the Belfast Mineral Water Company. Ginger ale is classed with soda water and seltzer, which should put to rest any suspicion that the term referred to something different from what we know as ginger ale:

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June 27, 1834 –Jaan Kolk

Linda Seccaspina I wish we had the good old ginger ale… nothing like it.

Jaan Kolk Linda, yes, the 1836 Belfast was superb!:)

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Lost Ottawa

Page Liked · June 9 ·  

This one is described as being inside the Pure Spring bottling plant on Aberdeen Street, which is in Ottawa’s Little Italy district.

Looks like Phil’s Lunch was getting a nice new set of Pure Spring signs!

Any takers on the location of Phil’s Lunch?

(City of Ottawa Archives CA022469

The hand-painted wooden sign is a remnant of Ottawa’s old independent soft drink maker, Pure Spring Ginger Ale, a soda company that used to have a plant close by near Ottawa’s Italian community. It was later sold to Crush Beverages

Jeff Porteous There was nothing like the taste of a cold Pure Spring Ginger ale!!

No 22 Aberdeen Street is now a parking lot. No 869 Belfast Road, to which Pure Spring moved in the early 1970s, is now a (ugh!) Pepsi plant.

My late brother worked for the Mirsky’s when they owned Pure Spring. Remember all the different drinks and flavours? It was dismaying when they sold out to Pepsi!

 They did not sell to Pepsi. It has been sold many times over…Orange crush to Eastcan Beveridge then 7up then Pepsi….May have forgotten one. Combined yrs of service with husband family well over 100 yrs.

 No but somebody bring back Pure Spring! It would definitely be a seller !

 My favourites were Honee Orange and Gini.

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
13 Aug 1955, Sat  •  Page 5
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 May 1956, Tue  •  Page 29
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 1931
 - The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
19 Jan 1948, Mon  •  Page 3
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
19 Jan 1948, Mon  •  Page 10
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Oct 1969, Thu  •  Page 3
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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
20 Mar 1965, Sat  •  Page 45
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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
25 Jun 1928, Mon  •  Page 15
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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
10 Jul 1878, Wed  •  Page 2 Jaan Kolk
Jaan Kolk's Profile Photo, Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, hat, stripes and indoor
historian Jaan Kolk
Linda Seccaspina

The Lost Brading’s Brewery Railway Tunnel

“Hey You Guys!” A Goonie Adventure on Brewery Creek

A. Huckels & Co. -The Story of a Bottle- Thanks to Jaan Kolk

Interesting People –R. E. Irvine — The Story of a Bottle

Mrs. James Lawrie and Her Ginger Beer

A Story About Bellamys and Lemon Pie

King: Finding the spring in Pure Spring ginger ale

Pure Spring Soda Company Ottawa

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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