C253-A02_43-10 | Pasteurized milk, Ferme St-Michel, J.J. Joubert

Milk bottle top
Pasteurized milk, Ferme St-Michel, J.J. Joubert
1930-1940, 20th century
Coloured ink on card - Photolithography
4.2 cm
Gift of Mr. David M. Lank
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Bottle top (5)
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Keys to History

Before the First World War, only a small proportion of the milk sold in Montreal was pasteurized. Pasteurization, a process invented by French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), consists in heating milk to a temperature that kills pathogenic bacteria and then cooling it quickly and keeping it cold. At the time, the standard method involved heating the milk to at least 143°F (61.6°C) for 20 to 30 minutes. While safer, this milk was more expensive, and many consumers did not like the taste. Some people, even some physicians, thought that pasteurized milk contained fewer nutrients than raw milk. Nevertheless, because all other attempts at regulation appeared to have failed and the mortality rate remained high, most reformers and hygienists decided to pin all their hopes on compulsory pasteurization of the milk sold in Montreal. This marked the beginning of a long political struggle that dragged on until 1926.

  • What

    This cap from a quart bottle of milk is a reminder of the operations of one of Montreal's oldest and largest dairies. Its founder, Jacques Janvier Joubert, was the first milkman in the British Empire to deliver bottled milk.

  • Where

    The Ferme St-Michel was J. J. Joubert's family farm in the parish of St. Léonard de Port Maurice. Joubert began his career delivering milk to people living in the neighbourhood that was to become the Plateau Mont Royal.

  • When

    The Joubert dairy was also one of the first in Canada to offer pasteurized milk to its customers. The company began using pasteurization equipment in 1908.

  • Who

    It is thanks to the young David M. Lank, who collected milk bottle caps between 1930 and 1940, that the McCord Museum now has an extensive collection of bottle caps from dairies from every region of Quebec.