With the opening up of the Canadian border to vaccinated US travelers August 9th, this meant my neighbours to the south are once again enjoying the sights and attractions of the Great White North. May I recommend one very good automotive museum in central Alberta if that’s your thing, the Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin.
The museum came to be from the private collections of Stan Reynolds, a businessman and world-renowned collector who donated many automotive and agricultural items to the government of Alberta in 1981, and later the museum after it was opened in 1992. Reynolds donated approximately 1,500 artifacts to the museum before his death in 2012.
The collection now includes more than 500 vehicles, 130 aircraft, 5,000 pieces of agricultural equipment and 70,000 pieces of trade literature. Concerning the latter, if you ever need to research a particular vehicle it’s very likely the library will have not only brochures but perhaps other types of documents or books related to that vehicle or manufacturer.
The Reynolds Museum also has a separate building warehousing many more vehicles. You can take a warehouse tour by appointment during certain times of the year. This tour is a must see and you will feast your eyes on a wide variety of vehicles stacked up to the ceiling.
Noteworthy aircraft are stored in the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame just a short walk from the main building.
The restoration shop is a spacious area where not only collectable cars have been restored, but rare agricultural equipment and machinery.
The public can view the goings on from a large window on an upper level and watch shop supervisor Darren Wiberg and his team work on various projects. Darren has been at Reynolds since 1987 and headed up many outstanding restorations. He also conducts annual restoration workshops.
PR person Cynthia Blackmore recently obtained permission for me to stop in and have a look at what’s happening these days at the museum.
Those workshops sell out quickly. The current project which he says is his last before retirement, is a very rare 1955 Canada diesel powered truck. Yes, it is called Canada, a single axle highway rig for trailer towing. The work is being aided by cannibalizing a damaged donor truck.
Darren describes the truck as a “prototypical machine” with very, very few built in the late fifties. How many exactly? No information exists that can confirm a production figure. The company behind its limited production was A.V. Roe Canada Ltd, builders of the advanced Avro Arrow long-range jet bomber. When the Arrow was cancelled, every other project A.V. Roe was involved with died including the Canada truck. There is almost nothing recorded about the Canada truck’s history. Darren says the 5-ton rig, has a two-speed Eaton axle rated at 9,000 lbs. The gearbox has ten forward speeds.
Diesel powered highway trucks were not yet quite a common in the late fifties so the straight 6-cylinder Leyland diesel was a rare powerplant at the time putting out 175 horsepower and a healthy 495 lb. ft. of torque at 2,100 max rpm.
Darren hopes the restoration of the Canada will be completed this fall. It’s a big job in terms of body work, frame restoration and powertrain aided with dedicated volunteers.
The Reynolds Museum always hosts major events and this summer opened a large exhibit of classic motorcycles. This is a family-oriented venue and one not to be missed by fans of self-propelled vehicles whether they have two wheels, four or more.