West Coast Canadian Swap Meet Report

September 14-15, 1996

By Mark Lauckner

The 3rd annual West Coast Canadian Insulator swap occurred last week-end. After keeping an ear to the weather all week, it looked pretty bad on Friday when I arrived at Tom's from a trip into Northern BC. Being an outdoor event, we borrowed numerous big tarps and spent several hours stringing them up around the yard. Saturday night it rained so hard that in the morning the tarps were just suspended pools of water a few feet off the ground. It continued to rain throughout most of the swap-meet. I'm sure that the attendance was about 1/3rd what it would have been if the weather was fine. We sat around in the damp and discussed renting a local community hall for next year's event. Miraculously enough, as the last participants were packing to leave, the sun came out.

Anyway, I had just come back from a road trip into Collins Line territory in Northern BC, and bought a collection in Quesnel. I also had a great meeting with Dwight Dodge of Quesnel, who has been doing some really commendable restoration work on the old line. The information and photos I gathered for an upcoming CIC article. The collection I bought there was actually first located by a well-known US insulator dealer who frequents central Canada yearly with a U-haul. For whatever reason the old collector did not actually sell to this person, and then I was contacted by the collector. I thought I better get up there and look at it before next year, because that's when the U-haul will be back. I have now missed out on 3 great old-time Canadian collections I had lined up to buy literally by 2 weeks because I was casual about my travel plans. I learned the lesson again only 2 weeks ago with a great old collection I had arranged to buy in Alberta ... you snooze, you loose. Somehow a dealer from Montana heard about the collection and drove up and bought it while I was still making my travel plans. Anyway, I managed to buy a neat collection of mostly prairie stuff, and there were 3 insulators I did not have in my collection. The rest (600 pieces) I traded and sold off at the swap meet, as I didn't want to take anything home that I didn't have to. As I stayed at Tom's on the Friday night, he got first pick of all the free boxes and that completed his outdoor display of over 800 pieces of glass. He was glad to have it finished before the Sunday event. I 'blew out' the common glass and porcelain throughout the day on Sunday until all the remaining glass was $0.50 or free.

On Saturday afternoon Robin Harrison from Seattle showed up, and after he looked at Tom's collection, we all went for a big pizza-fest and did the customary thing of sharing insulator stories and getting all hyped up about digging on stretches of the Collins' line that nobody has yet been able to locate. Back at the house the historic maps came out and eyeballs got real big but tired. That night the hard pelting rain kept me awake as I worried about the tarps we strung up in the afternoon.

Sunday morning around 10:00 AM Jeff Laplante showed up from Kamloops with about 4 boxes of good clean traders he has been picking lately in his area. Some real nice stuff. The way I figure it is: if there were no purple beehives on those lines, the other interesting stuff may have been noticed 25 years ago, but because they were side by side on the crossarms with purple glass, they got left behind in favor of the purples. He brought numerous light lavender CD-143's with the purple swirls in, some deep green CD-145 B's, odd colored Dominion-42's, CD-133 Canadians in green, and other goodies. He set up on a picnic table out in the open weather, and hoped for a clear afternoon. The ironic thing was that it was not his insulators that needed washing, but mine. Wilf and Margaret Secord showed up around noon, the official start time, but just stood around in the cold with umbrellas for a while. They were about to leave when Dave Bethman from Bellingham, WA showed up and bought a bottle for $100 out of the back of his car. They went home and got more bottles and insulators and came right back and set up their table. Wilf brought the Wire Cache postcard for me to copy. Wow. It is a very high resolution photo given the time it was taken. I copied it with my camera, but then took it home anyway to get a good close-up of a guy in the picture sitting on a pile of wire holding a threadless pin with a McMicking mounted on it. It will make a great poster! Sepia-tone! The photo was taken by the CNR construction crew as they discovered the cache as they were clearing for the railway in the 'teens. It was lost again until Wilf found it in the 70's and again in the 80's.

Doug MacGillivary from Delta, BC came and did the kid-in-the-candy store thing as most new collectors do. He bought up lots of variety and different CD's from the offerings and even got a VNM McMicking off Wilf too. He was just about to leave when I had my half-price table blow-out thing, and then he got about 20 more pieces for a few bucks more. NOTE: This is not the Doug MacGillvary from Connecticut but a local collector who discovered the hobby through the internet a couple years ago. A couple from Escondido, California attended for a couple hours. They were dressed for California weather, so got a bit of a surprise when they met us in their shorts and we were all standing around in coats, boots, wool hats and rain gear. They found a McMicking and a few other goodies on the tables. They would have won the long-distance award if we had one. Perhaps next year. Dave Bethman bought a bunch of glass for his bottle and insulator shop on I-5 in Ferndale, WA, and told great stories about his recent digging trip back in Pennsylvania. The Reinking brothers from Woodinville, WA also attended. They have been doing some digging, so had a few stories to share as well as a box of real nice traders. Al and Pat Dreyer attended from Lillooet, BC. Al is a bottle and artifact collector who has recently discovered the hobby after digging the garbage dump at the old telegraph office in Yale and finding numerous threadless Tillotsons. I phoned him a couple years ago to ask him about his dig. He said he had absolutely no interest in collecting insulators. I sent him a sample issue of the CIC anyway, and now he is a full-fledged collector fiend like all of us. The CPR just dropped 2 of their 4 cross-arms on the mainline through the Fraser Canyon, so Al has a front yard all lined up with rows and rows of different kinds of glass from that line. (His threadless pieces aren't for sale or trade so don't even think about it.) Also attending was John Monroe from Maple Ridge, BC. John's a relatively new collector who found 'us' a few years ago and has attended all three of our swap-meets. He probably lives closer than any other collector attending.

After the event and a mad rush to the ferry, Robin Harrison came over to Mayne Island to visit me for a couple days. We went to Vancouver Island one day to locate the old Goldstream Power plant, the first Hydro-electric plant on the Canadian west coast. We found the plant, and spent a while looking around. There was a scrap metal salvage company in the place a number of years earlier, and that meant there were no remains of the generating equipment left on site. There were lots of threaded pins mounted on the sides of the walls in the switching room, but no power glass or mud to be found. I have lots of historic photos of the place showing equipment, pole line, etc., but we couldn't find a thing. I took lots of location photos for a future article on the plant for the CIC. That's all.

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Last updated Thursday, September 19, 1996