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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.

Barrie Bust / Country Collection

I write about the Barrie Automotive Flea Market every time I go there. But the way things are going, I might not write about it again after this year. There was hardly anything to find, plate-wise. It’s a good thing I brought my son. We had fun camping and fishing along the way.

The market is about half of its former size. The blue and red fields are where the bulk of the decent sellers remain. The gold field is a write-off. The organizers can’t fill it, and the vendors there are few, with large empty spots between them. A lot of it is garage-sale calibre, with lots of snowmobile skis or used racing tires, with maybe a few plates. Those that I did find wouldn’t have interested me even as a teenager. I tag-teamed with Eric Vettoretti to harvest a scant few YOM pairs, but the outcome wasn’t worthwhile, given the effort we made to comb it on the respective days that we were there. The car show was very small, with a fraction of what it used to have. It looked like the management finally increased the number of food vendors to three from two, but that would mean only a 45-minute wait at lunchtime, instead of an hour. I brought my own food and drinks this time, so the lines were of no concern to me. My son shopped until he dropped. He bought a big, resin-encased rhinoceros beetle paperweight, but that was the extent of the keeper treasures we found. At least he's happy!

The most interesting vendor was, unfortunately, the most irritating. He wouldn’t haggle with me over his steep prices… $100 for common pairs of Ontario plates, for example. $50 per plate seemed to be his ballpark. I found a couple of old depression-era Manitoba plates with short numbers. I figured I’d buy a couple, clean them up, and see if I can flip them. But then I found a really cool 1932 plate with a cast aluminum Winnipeg Motor Tax emblem bolted to it. So, this being a flea market, I asked him how much it was. But suddenly, the guy decided he liked this plate too much, and wouldn’t sell it at all—even though it was in a box of stuff in the middle of a frickin’ flea market. I handed it back to him after he said “nope, not for sale” for the fourth time… and then he just slipped it back into the same sale box with the other plates! Geez… it was the only interesting plate I found the whole day, on a sale table, and it wasn’t even for sale. An apt example of how awful the Barrie flea market has become. So I won’t write about it anymore.

I was previously in touch with Blaine, an old-timer from the Orillia area, who was looking for 1946 and 1954 Ontario plates to help complete a collection project. I had two singles he needed, and I arranged to stop by his farm on my way out of the flea market.

Blaine’s project revolved around the plates that his parents used on the family car starting in 1919. Blaine still had most of them, and he also had various pictures of the family cars through the years, with the plates clearly visible in some cases. Blaine invited me into his workshop to see his display.

It was arranged like pages in a book, where each page was a narrow sheet of pegboard, fastened to a steel rod on one side. He built a rectangular frame of 2x6 studs, a little taller than the pegboard. He drilled holes in the top and bottom of the frame, and housed the rods within the holes so that the attached pegboard could swing right or left. He mounted several overlapping pegboards in this way, creating his page-flip display.

Here's some of what Blaine showed me. Every car had a story, starting with a 1919 Chevrolet touring. I've only pictured the vehicles with plates that are included in the display. Click any picture to enlarge.

Left: Brand-new 1927 Chevrolet owned by the family, on the beach at Wasaga. Right: The same 1927 plate, 95 years later.

Left: 1935 Pontiac sedan in Orillia, wearing 1938 plate 62B15. Right: The same 1938 plate.

Left: 1941 Oldsmobile sedan, the first car Blaine remembers from childhood, as seen in 1953. Right: The same 1953 plate, plus the matching War Amps key tag.

Left: The family's 1950 Chevrolet sedan, as seen with its plate in 1956. Right: The same 1956 plate today, with matching War Amps key tag (wide-number variant).

Left: Blaine's first car, a 1950 Pontiac sedan, shown in late 1958 with a banged-up plate. Right: Probably the rear 1958 plate from Blaine's Pontiac.

Left: The family's 1953 Buick sedan, as seen in 1960. Right: The same 1960 plate. The key tag doesn't match... it came from the '41 Olds, which was still in service nineteen years later!

Blaine had a few missing plate years when he set out to build his display, but he managed to find other examples to fill the gaps, such as the 1946 and 1954 plates from me. The earliest plate that was used by the family is 1923. It was very interesting to see the “then and now” aspect of his collection. My visit to Blaine’s workshop felt more rewarding than my visit to the flea market!

Above: Blaine's display. Use the hard-to-see < and > arrows on the left and right sides of the slider above to view other panels.

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