Here’s the annual outtake round-up… pictures that didn’t make it into any 2Cents columns, most of which are being seen here for the first time. Enjoy!
When Ontario debuted its Year Of Manufacture program in 2001, it created a new “plate type” for collectors to find. A legitimately-registered YOM pair stands apart from a typical old passenger pair in terms of how it was used. The proof, however, must show clearly in the pudding. Such a confirmed YOM pair would have to be accompanied by its ownership. Or, at the very least, it would need a plate abstract to prove that the number was in use in the YOM program at the time that is depicted on its validation sticker. Otherwise, there would be no way to know if it was just a jumped sticker on a random old plate.
But, given that I run a YOM-plating business, my “holy grail” has been to recover a pair of plates that was restored on my very own workbench and sold by my business. After 19 years of selling plates for YOM registration, I finally had a chance to add a pair of them, with ownership, for my collection. The original registrant sold his vehicle a few years ago, but the guy who bought it didn’t want to pay the $120 annual validation fee, so he switched to less-exciting historic plates for $18 per year. He later sold the vehicle and still had the 1948 plates, which I was able to acquire. And for extra memento value, they include one of my old YOMtabs, which I no longer sell.
In the spring, I decided to have some booster plates made up for the Canadian License Plate Collectors group on Facebook. Neb Ilic sent me a big version of the red plate graphic that he created. I chose a Canadian company, complete with “dot-ca” website, to make what would be an all-Canadian product based on a Canadian design. I tweaked Neb’s graphic so it would fit on the design template, and I added a “sticker” in the lower right corner to commemorate the month and year that Mike Franks founded the group. People paid in advance, and I sent the order to have them made.
A few days later, they were ready to ship, and I got the tracking number from the carrier. But I discovered something I hadn't expected.
They were made in Mumbai… not Toronto, which I’d been expecting. From Mumbai, they went through Dubai, London, and Memphis, before crossing into Canada at Toronto, and finally arriving in Ottawa. They arrived on time, and the product was fine. But made-in-Canada they weren’t. Oh well.
I’m all smiles in the early stages of my first trip to Acton in three years. I was driving with Eric Vettoretti, and we stopped at Rideau Antiques on our way out of town. It’s a place like no other. There are lots of plates to be found in several spots both inside and outdoors. The plates are often not that memorable, but the shop itself is so densely packed with antiques… it’s a sight to behold, even if you don’t buy anything.
An extra shot of me pawing through plates on the field in Stirling this past May. It felt great to finally be out after a long winter and even longer pandemic shutdown.
A quick outtake selfie at a junk store in Vermont, where I was indeed having a day of great fun. I bought the plate and did a second selfie outside because the exterior of the building was pretty interesting. The second picture ended up being the cover shot of the “Vermontario” installment last spring. Sorry for all the pictures of my face in the outtake parade!
The gang’s all here? Mike Franks shot this candid picture of myself, Eric, and Dave Steckley as we ran into each other in the pavilion at the Lindsay Fairgrounds. I don’t remember what Dave might have been saying to Eric, or why Eric’s laughing. I’m just waving at Mike, happy to be there.
My last name starts with a U, but in this case, U is for unicorn. I have, for two decades, been trying to find an overflow “U” plate from the red June quarterly truck series. The numbering scheme was realigned for 1973, and the June truck plates were allocated a T-prefix. I had seen a picture in Joe Sallmen’s book of a June plate bearing a letter U after the T-series was exhausted, but I had never actually seen one before. I bought this as part of a batch of plates from a gentleman in Ajax.
I did a double-take when I saw this motorcycle outside my local supermarket. The owner came along while I was checking it out and said that he was a retired veteran, and had been stationed with the Canadian Forces in Germany some years ago. I wasn’t about to mention the collectibility of his plate, because I didn’t want to come across as critical. It was interesting to see something like this on a motorcycle, however ornamental.
Dave Steckley poses with a newly-acquired 1911 Ontario porcelain plate. We’re at a park in Rossmore, just across the bridge from Belleville. There’s nothing much in Rossmore… we just chose it because it was a convenient halfway point for us to meet and settle up on some high-volume trading. Dave did most of the legwork, so it was only right that the porcelain plate went to him.
This is a really old sign. It might date from the early seventies, if not the sixties. The decades of weathering has peeled almost all the reflective paint on the background, revealing a layer of shiny aluminum. I’ve driven the western leg of 556 many times, between Heyden and Searchmont. Our family cottage was up there, and that’s where the plate bug first bit me. This sign is located near the eastern terminus of the highway, where it meets King’s Highway 129 in basically the middle of nowhere. I’d never seen the road from that side before. The “west” tab is a lot newer than the 556 marker.
The east-facing 129 / 556 junction assembly, looking west on 556. The 129 signs seemed to be of the same vintage as the 556 signs. None of these signs are peeling, but the fading of numbers reveals the stencil line from when it was hand-painted decades ago.
I restored this pair of 1951 plates fairly quickly during the summer, and they sold within a day to a guy south of Ottawa. Less than a month later, I was in Kemptville at a swap show, and I came across this crazy-cool truck. The bumpers, tailgate, and plate frames are all made of welded chain links. I recognized the plates right away, since they had been on my workbench only a few weeks before. The numbers sort of get written into my memory, since I stare at them for a combined couple of hours while detailing them. I tried to photograph a front view of the truck, but it was in the shade and someone was parked there, preventing a good shot.
At the same Kemptville swap meet, I encountered this pair of 1951 plates for sale. They had already been registered under the YOM program, given the 2009 expiry sticker. If I hadn’t already scored the pair of ‘48 plates shown earlier in this post, I might have bought these '51s for my collection. There’s no question of another person trying to re-register these… you can only do that if they’re attached to the vehicle at the time of sale. They’re not transferable otherwise.
I was in North Augusta in the summer and stopped by the “house covered in stuff.” It looks like it could be a business, given that it fronts right on the main street with no yard, but it’s a private residence. I found a curious 1965 Ford Galaxie, painted in old-time police livery, complete with rotating cherry dome on the roof, and a giant curved antenna tied down to the rear bumper. It sported a 1965 plate, but only on the front end. But still an interesting sight to see.
I spent a weekend camping with my son Greg, and we went by the Barrie Automotive Flea Market on Saturday. It’s largely a waste of time now if you’re looking for plates. Hope springs eternal though, so we spent a morning there. I bought very little, and Greg is holding part of the haul. Greg likes to pose with a smile in pictures, but I like candid shots better. He wasn’t ready when I pressed the shutter, but I find this pose more interesting.
I dropped my daughter off at her friend’s place, and this Honduras-plated car was parked on the street. The car wore a “Lapointe” dealership badge. With a French name like that, it’s pretty clear this car wasn’t purchased in Honduras and driven to Ottawa. We have a lot of foreign nationals in Ottawa, but they usually get red plates because they’re diplomatic staff. I’m not sure what the story is for this plate… but it was over four years expired when I spotted it.
A vendor in Grimsby had for sale this curious hand-painted sign. Not a licence plate, but about the same size. The galvanized frame had two mounting tabs that were about the same distance apart as a typical plate. It looked to be painted in the 1960s; that’s my guess because of the style of the crown. Hand-painted items like this interest me, but I seem to remember it was about $75. I decided to leave it, but I took a photo anyway.
ALPCA member Ken Murdoch passed away early in the year, and I arranged the purchase of his collection from the family. Ken was a fairly quiet collector. He attended our local Ontario meets regularly up until about ten years ago; Acton 2014 was the final occasion in which he appeared in a group photo. While I was at the Murdoch residence, I noticed this old picture of Ken posing with his Mustang. It’s either an ‘85 or ‘86.
Every so often, I end up buying a large batch of plates that have to be sorted. My house is pretty small, and the only place I can do that is in my single-car garage. In the winter months, it’s chilly work. I remember sorting out the Plunkett and Yavner collections over a few weeks through the winter months. I installed a radiant heater on the ceiling so I can stay warm with a coffee or tea during wintertime sorting. I jointly purchased the Murdoch collection in November with Dave Steckley and Eric Vettoretti, and there were some cold evenings in the garage sorting things out.
I taught at a virtual high school during the 2020-21 school year, so I had to host several Google Meet sessions daily. While I’m glad to be back to everything being “in person,” using virtual tools still proves useful from time to time. Dave, Eric, and I had agreed to split the Murdoch collection three ways via the “round robin” system. But the plates were with me, and Dave lives several hours away. We had to get them divided before our next in-person reunion, so we made our picks over a couple of evenings of virtual meetings. Here’s a screen grab of the divvy process under way. Every time someone chose a plate, it would be recorded in a spreadsheet, and the plate would be struck from the picture. It worked really smoothly with no glitches!
I was downtown in late fall, heading to the dentist. I parked on the street, and next to me was a car with a Quebec diplomat plate. It’s a very rare type to find. I asked Alan Bones, who’s a retired diplomat and is very well-versed in the issuing intricacies of plates to international personnel. Alan indicates that any Ottawa-accredited diplomats are registered in Ontario, as technically their formal address is through their embassy. There are no embassies on the Quebec side of the river, so no Quebec CD plates are issued there. Quebec CD plates are issued to diplomats accredited to the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, which is Canada's only resident UN agency. My guess here is that a diplomat with the ICAO had some sort of business in Ottawa, which is only a couple of hours’ drive away.
In late November, I made a long-awaited acquisition to my collection. HER is the new arrival; I've owned the AAA for a while now. These are the "bookend" series of the 1973 allocation. AAA was issued in Toronto, of course. The community at the bottom of the distribution list was Rainy River, which received FZF. After that, there were about 120,000 pairs kept in reserve, down to the end of the HER series. These were issued where needed. No allocation records exist that I know of beyond this point. HER is the highest series mentioned in the 1973 allocation documents.
2022 is the year that we lost Bill Thoman. I dove into my writing (a personal grief mechanism) and wrote an article all about him. I was grateful that Lynda shared with me some pictures of his art that I hadn't seen before. They're all very beautiful. I didn't have room for this watercolour of a country garage. This is the kind of place where plates could be hidden... which, I'm sure, occurred to Bill as he was painting. Miss you, Bill.