The Milk Bottle Mystique

Guaranteed milk pint under renovation

Oh boy! Oh yay! The Guaranteed Milk Bottle will be saved!

Our infrastructure may be crumbling, our highways a-tangle, our government corrupt, but a fresh coat of paint on this silly old water tower so warms my heart.

Why does it matter? Why do I care?

In the 1980s my dad lived on Quesnel street, just down the hill from the Guaranteed Pure Milk dairy plant on Lucien l’Allier. To a kid raised on the likes of Maurice Sendak, a 10-meter-tall milk bottle against a backdrop of impenetrable office buildings, was simply something I could relate to.

Illustration from Maurice Sendak’s book “In the Night Kitchen”

It seems I’m not the only one who gets warm fuzzy flashbacks every time I pass the Guaranteed Pure Milk bottle: Andy Riga’s post about the restoration project generated a slew of childhood memories from across generations. The milk bottle in the city skyline has surely beguiled children ever since it was built in 1932.

Perhaps all of us who grew up with a giant milk bottle on the horizon still have the feeling that it – and by extension the street corner, the neighbourhood, the whole city – belongs just a little bit to us.

The other feel-good thing is that a number of private companies have chipped in to restore the whimsical icon. The main sponsor is the milk marketing board whom, I suppose, gain a massive, much-loved product placement out of the deal.

Despite the recent investment, the bottle-shaped water tower may be moved in the future.


  1. Good News!

    Once an eagerly-anticipated Montreal icon for the traveller on the old Dorchester streetcar when on the way to CP Windsor Station or CN Central Station to embark on a trip before we had an automobile.

    Very prominent when the Sun Life Building was the tallest building around.

  2. It is great news. But because of the buildings that have come up on Rene Levesque in the past few years, you can’t see it any more. I knew a few people who had climbed up there back in the 80s. That and the Five Roses sign are icons definately worth saving.

  3. When my mother rode in town on the train from Dorion, more than 50 years ago, the milk bottle was the signal that she should get ready to get off the train…

  4. It’s done now and on display. Quite an improvement!

  5. The Guaranteed Milk Bottle is very dear to my heart – and memories. In the early 1950’s my family ‘commuted’ by Provincial Bus from Ste-Agathe-des- Monts to Montreal – the bus terminal being very near, at Drummond and Dorchester. We saw it every day. The next year we started to ‘live’ in Montreal during the week, renting a room somewhere in the area and eating at the Honey Dew and Macy’s. I attended Bourget Academy on ‘de la Montagne’. Always near ‘the bottle’!

    I have lived in and out of Montreal over the years since then and at present live in the Eastern Townships. By bus trips to Montreal bring me to Berri-de Montigny; my vehicule trips bring me to a very good friend on St-Marc Street who looks East, over the Grey Nuns on to ‘the spot’. he told me something was happening – all covered up – et voilĂ ! You did it!

    Now, how do you protect it from graffiti! Please find a way!

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