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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.

Ottawa Christmas Dine-N-Swap 2023

The annual Ottawa dinner and swap meet was another holiday success!

Dave Grant organized this year’s event for Wednesday December 27th. The Post-Christmas, Pre-New Year timing works well for us because our venue isn't terribly busy, so we typically have the restaurant to ourselves. When the trade boxes come out after dinner, it’s no big deal if we spread out onto nearby tables.

I got there a tad early, but Dave and Evelyn Steckley were already there with Joe Sallmen, Mike DeVouge and John Hayes. The conversation revolved around new plate issues, old plate issues, die variations, and other things that only people like us could discuss. It was great!

Dave Steckley, Mike DeVouge and Eric Vettoretti checking out a PEI prototype. The table gradually filled up. Thomas Zimmermann is temporarily in Ontario, but is vowing to head out west again. Liam Kivits, a new collector, got a lift from his dad (they live an hour away). Mike and Alannah Franks made the trip from Lindsay. All told, there were 14 people at the table: Most local, some quasi-local, and a quartet of long-distance guests.

General table shot, with dinner, drinks, show-and-tell, and trading all happening at once!

I enjoy the company of these folks more and more as I get older, and even if we didn’t bring anything to drool over or swap, it would still be lots of fun. The show-and-tell aspect is delightful, and of course, meeting together makes for an ideal opportunity to finalize pending trades. And once all that is done, I’m all for making a few bucks from my trade boxes! As for show-and-tell, Mike DeVouge brought a jaw-dropping 1927 Newfoundland passenger plate... it's the stuff that dreams are made of, for people like us!

One of the prettiest "British" plates you'll ever see!

I sat across from Alan Bones, who always has albums of photos to share. His show-and-tell plate was a 1982 Yukon base. At first, we were puzzled, but we knew something was up when he asked us to guess why this plate was special. The answer: It's the number-one plate to be issued on the red-and-white 1982 base. Alan explained that Yukon doesn't use three repeating letters in a row, so ABA was the first letter combination to be issued.

Alan shows his first-in-sequence Yukon plate.

Eric Vettoretti brought his recently-acquired Queen Elizabeth Way route marker, which has the design from the 1939 debut, but was made at the larger size that we know today, which debuted in the 1950s. There was a lot of chatter around the table about it. While we generally like signs, we don’t know as much about them as plates, so the exact reason why it appears to have 1950s sizing with a 1930s design is still a mystery. Our best guess is that it was a replacement for one of the 1930s signs, which could have been knocked over by a snowplow in the 1950s.

Historians around the table discuss the ins and outs of Eric's QEW sign.

Liam Kivits came away with a six-digit 1918 Ontario plate that I had in my collection for a few years. The plate was actually the very first one collected by the late Dick Patterson in 1963 (he wrote a label on the back). It will probably be a keeper in Liam's collection for decades to come, just as it was for Dick. I was merely the custodian of it for a short time in between.

Thomas and Liam having fun after dinner. Liam's 1918 Ontario plate has some notable history to it.

I had gone to visit the other end of the table, when I saw a light to my left. I looked, and it was a birthday cake. I was unfazed, because the restaurant was still open and it’s common for people to go out to dinner to celebrate a birthday. I was about to just move aside and let the server by, when I noticed the cake said “Happy 50th Jon” in the middle, amongst a plethora of candles. Mike assured me that the cake was intended for me, so I followed it over to the other end of the table. My birthday wasn’t for three weeks, but Dave Grant brought a cake to mark my fiftieth while everyone was together. I enjoyed the surprise very much.

Happy early 50th birthday to me.

Joe and I had a trade to finalize. I had acquired some rare international plates a couple of months prior, and Joe was interested in about a dozen of them. I sent Joe a wish list, and he dutifully came to Ottawa with a healthy selection for me to choose from. My top priority was a 1919 Ontario commercial plate. My truck run is already complete, but my 1919 was a pretty rotten-looking pair that was never really displayable. Acquiring a nice one from Joe is my most important acquisition this year. I was also ecstatic to trade for some older PCV, school and public vehicle plates, all of which fill holes in my collection. One of the most important plates going Joe's way was a 1960's Swiss plate from Neuchatel. Joe's family spent time in Switzerland when he was a kid, so collecting the various cantons has always been in the back of his mind.

John Hayes talks plates while Joe and Mike D. examine them. That's the Neustadt plate I traded to Joe.

The trading action continued for a while after dinner. I silently pondered my upcoming 50th birthday. I've been collecting plates for 80% of my life, and this hobby still hits me with the same excitement that I experienced as a kid. I look at the plates I've had in my collection for 30 years, and I realize the time has just swept past me. I may not be around in another 30 years, but these rectangles of ours have been saved from the ravages of time through careful storage. If only staying young was as simple... Age is a funny thing when you really sit down to consider what's happening to you.

Standing: Leah, Joe, Alannah, John, Dave G., Dave S., Mike D., Alan. Crouching: Jon, Thomas, Liam, Eric, Mike F. Behind the camera: Evelyn.

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