Packaging is news today. How much of it goes into landfills? How much of it is recycled? How much of it can we eliminate? But packaging was once news for another reason. It was innovative and modern. It protected and preserved merchandise for sale to wider markets. It communicated and created a brand. It changed what people purchased as well as when and why they shopped. It also created new jobs for Londoners. 

Unpacking Packaging will feature over 100 artifacts from Museum London’s extensive artifact collection to explore the history of packaging. You will learn answers to questions you never knew you had! Why could Londoners once only buy pop in bottles with rounded bottoms?  When was toothpaste first sold in tubes? Why did cigar manufacturers first package their product in boxes rather than sell them loose or in bundles? I’ll give you a hint with this last question: It had to do with taxes…of course!

As the demand for packaging grew with industrialization, new railway networks, and a growing population, Londoners found jobs in this expanding field. The London and Petrolia Barrel Company produced tight and slack casks for every need. Peter Hendershott’s small firm made paper bags. Somerville Paper Boxes made – you guessed it – paper boxes! Lawson and Jones, today Jones Packaging Inc., produced boxes and labels, among other products. Hygrade Corrugated Products produced the first corrugated boxes in Canada. And before his knighthood for helping to establish Ontario’s hydroelectric system, then plain old Adam Beck owned the Beck Manufacturing Company, which made cigar and cheese boxes.

Come and see a wide variety of artifacts. Feel nostalgic as you look at packaging no longer in use. Have fun as you design your own brand ideas for some selected products featured in the exhibition. Learn more about this weirdly fascinating topic!