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First started as "My 2 Cents" in 1997, I have written posts numbering into the hundreds. It will take some time to resurrect the older posts, so keep checking back. They will include meet reports, travelogues, and news of interest to Ontario licence plate collectors.

Acton '24 and Afterward

Saturday was Acton-packed, let me tell you. I woke up in Milton, spent five hours in Acton, drove to Brantford, Took a coffee break in Kingston, and arrived back home in Ottawa before midnight. I sold a bunch of traders, liquidated some of my business, collected a bunch of keepers, received a couple of generous gifts, and chatted with a news reporter, and finally got myself to the afterparty. I’m pretty tired after it all, but I try not to let that get in the way of a good article. So here we go.

I roomed with Eric Vettoretti in Milton the night before. I arrived after 9 pm, and I was too tired to go out for a late bite, so we just watched the Jets fight to a 2-1 lead over the Avs after 40 minutes. I skipped the third period and went to sleep, only to find the next morning that the Avs scored five times in the third period, thus mopping the floor with the Jets in a 6-2 victory.

We arrived in Acton about 20 minutes before the official opening time, but about half the tables were already occupied, with trading well under-way. Before I even got onto the floor, Stephen Pape came over and gifted me a large envelope. It was his copy of The Reflector, the magazine of the Antique & Classic Car Club of Canada. (What’s important about that? I’ll tell you shortly.) I needed two tables next to each other, but I didn’t want to be out in the end zone, so I grabbed a table from there, and stuck it next to another table at centre ice.

I brought my usual traders and arranged them on one table with grey bins. But I’m liquidating my business,, ahead of closing it next year, so I needed a second table to sell surplus pairs. They’re all inventoried and I needed to keep track of them separately from my traders. I put the tables back-to-back and just camped out between them. Sales from my trader boxes were more brisk than phase 1 of my liquidation, but I have phases 2 through 4 planned. Eventually, I’ll get my storage space back!

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get away from my table to do any shopping, and I was sort of right. But I had a raft of pre-arranged deals to finalize, so I added some goodies to my collection. I had been holding on to some older Saskatchewan and BC plates for Paul Frater, and we had never finalized a trade. But Paul brought a really cool 1958 school vehicle plate, still riveted to the 1958 commercial plate that was mounted on the back of the bus. I would have done the trade anyway, since married items are cool– but this trade upgraded my collection; my downgrader 1958 school vehicle plate is a repaint. I was chuffed!

Other upgrade opportunities awaited me. I had a deal in place with John Harris for trailer and PCV upgrades to my collection. And I had a 3-way deal in place with Dave Steckley and Eric for some gorgeous PCVs from the early 1960s. I met Mike McClashie, a new ALPCA member and grandson of the late John Rubick, who attended Acton for the first time. Mike gifted me a pair of 1981 foreign embassy staff plates, which upgrade the single that I previously had in my collection. Mike also passed on to me a few small mementos from his grandfather’s archives, including two 1987 “grassroots” news articles about the Rubick collection (one is a Thorold community paper, and the other is the Hodgson Steel newsletter, where John spent his career as a welder. You can read much more about the late Mr. Rubick here.)

Trevor Wilkinson's 1960 Chevy Impala with some devilishly good YOM plates, restored by moi. Photo courtesy of Trevor.

First-timer Gerry Cooper made the trip from Manitoulin Island. He picked up some internationals from my table.

One aspect of the YOM business that I will miss is introducing classic car clients to the plate-collecting hobby. It doesn’t happen terribly often, but I first met Trevor Wilkinson as a YOM client, and he attended Acton this year as a hobbyist. Ditto for Gerry Cooper, who made his first trip to Acton from Manitoulin Island. The ferry isn’t open for the season yet, so snaking around Georgian Bay is no small journey!

Speaking of YOM clients, I should circle back to that magazine that Steve Pape gave me. The previous fall, I sold a pair of plates to Jim Misener, for his 1952 Pontiac. He was happy with his plates, and when I mentioned my decision to retire from the business (just announced at that time), he told me he was a writer for the ACCCC magazine, and asked if he could write a profile. Of course he could! Jim’s article appeared in the spring 2024 issue, and that’s why Steve Pape gifted me his copy of the magazine. That the article was written in the first place was due in no small part to the influence of John Rubick; he was the king of making grassroots connections, and promoting the hobby through print.

One thing John told me was how important it is to start conversations with new people, because you never know where they can lead. That’s how the ACCCC article came to be. But just then, an older gent started browsing the plates on my trade table. He was interested in a mint-condition set of 1963 plates on my table, and then found a clean single 1920. He asked if he could take pictures, and I invited him to go ahead. He was wearing an Old Autos newspaper cap, and introduced himself as Paul Jordan, a reporter. I’m an Old Autos subscriber and advertiser, so we got talking about his “beat,” which is the car show scene in southern Ontario. I’ve surely read dozens of his articles over the years. He had never considered coming to Acton before, but decided that it was time. I told him about my YOM business, my forthcoming retirement, and my activity within the plate collecting hobby. Paul stuck around to take some notes and pictures, so I brought him a spare table so he could have a space to work. Paul chatted with a few collectors through the morning. I’m looking forward to reading his handiwork!

Old Autos Reporter Paul Jordan takes some notes to inform his Acton article.

Sam Mazmanian came away with a gorgeous old “Licence Place” registry office sign. We don’t know exactly how old it is, but the trillium logo is the same one that was introduced in the 1970s. Sam is the proud owner/operator of three ServiceOntario offices. Each one is a small business that is owned by an entrepreneur and operates under licence with the province. My heart goes out to Sam and local business owners like him. They have invested so much and take such pride in their work, and yet, the province wants to get into bed with corporations like Staples to offer these services. The end result, in my eyes, will be lower-paid high-school students making a mess of my renewals.

Marlene Kennedy arrived not long before the group photo, and she had a few boxes of plates from the collection of the late Mike Hathway. I was tied up at my table and didn’t notice the commotion, but nearly a dozen collectors had gathered around her table.

“Hey, Jon!” Eric called. I turned his way, still not realizing what was up.

“Do you still need a December ‘79 bus?” He held up a black-and-gold plate, still sealed in its bag.

I was speechless, except to say, “YES!!”

I got myself over there. I had been looking for a December ‘79 bus plate for over 20 years; it was the last bus plate I needed to complete my quarterly run. No one knows why they’re not “out there,” but I had never had the chance to acquire one before. Marlene didn’t know how much to ask for it. I was overjoyed to finally have one, so I overpaid and gave her $50. Because if I found a pair in an antique shop for that much, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay that much. I knew Mike Franks needed one too, so I split the pair with him and took an Alberta government plate in trade.

Top left: Don Goodfellow demonstrates the portable wall shelf... great for plates or records! Top right: William Loftus buys plates from Jamaica and Brazil... and half a Lebanese plate. Bottom Left: Evelyn and Dave Steckley doing the announcements and raffle.

Bottom right: Mike Franks and Jim Becksted pose with Mike's just-finished Newfoundland run of restricted plates. I delivered the 1966 to Mike that very morning.

The morning zipped by. I don’t think I’ve ever lost track of time as I did this year. Eric had to leave by 11 to get home for his daughter’s communion, but he was pressed for time and slipped out. By the time I noticed he was probably gone, it was noon and Dave was getting a pizza order ready for those of us who were still around. The pizza arrived by one o’clock. I wolfed down a few pieces and decided it was time to pack up.

One more new addition: A 100-year-old motorcycle plate from Jon Ilnytzky, at Krystian's house.

Krystian Kozinski has invited me to his after-party in Brantford over the past couple of years, but the long drive home is a battle after too little sleep, getting up early, and walking around for five hours. An hour west to Brantford means adding an hour onto the 5-hour eastbound drive home. There are lots of valid reasons for staying away. But there was also the elephant in the room: Krystian and I used to not get along. We’ve since moved forward from that, having been encouraged by our mutual friends. I appreciated the invitation, and I wanted to reciprocate, so I resolved to make the jump down to Brantford.

Many of us have seen the disorienting garage pictures of Krystian's plates all over the walls and ceiling; I can hardly tell what direction the camera was ever facing. Krystian’s plate garage is more of a rec room with a well-stocked fridge, only it has a giant door at one end. Norm Ratcliffe and I spent a whole bunch of time gawking at the walls. I admire the way that Krystian keeps his collection updated– He continually switches favourite plates out to display new arrivals. He scored an invert error plate in Acton and put it up with some of his others.

Krystian climbs the ladder and adds his latest invert error plate to his wall.

I stayed and enjoyed myself for almost two hours, chatting with Krystian, Normy, Mike & Alannah, Keith Murphy, Jon Ilnytzky, Bill Morley, Darrell Hamel, and the Wounded Warrior Frank Crooks, who sliced his finger with utility blade earlier in the day while opening boxes of——what else?——plates. It was a great time. I’m glad I went.

Norm, Krystian and Mike texting the day's pictures to each other. Alannah already has them all!

I gassed up, grabbed a burger, and got some coffee for the long drive home. I took the 407 around Toronto, and flew the entire way. Say what people will about the 407, I find it’s well worth the toll. When I cheap out, I just sit on the QEW or 401 through the GTA, and it often adds another hour to the trip. I stopped for a stretch and yet another coffee in Kingston after nightfall. I got home just after 11PM, and that last coffee wore off just as I was pulling into the driveway.

Group shot, courtesy of Krystian. People were getting up by the time Evelyn had my camera in hand.

My haul of paper and metal from the 2024 edition of Acton.

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Dave Steckley
Dave Steckley
Apr 29

Another fine archival overview of the Acton meet Jon!

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