Curbside Classics: Items Intrigue in Stewart, BC

My wife and I took a road trip into northern British Columbia as well as, briefly, the Yukon. One of the highlights was the small town of Stewart which featured a variety of curbside classics, old buildings and a great history. There is a little bit of everything from a firetruck to a tug boat, and even a movie famous hydrocopter.

To put Stewart into context it is useful to get a sense of where it is which is about half way up British Columbia near the bottom of where Alaska drops down along the coast. It is nestled in the mountains a few hours drive away from any major centers. In fact, Stewart did not have a road into it until 1972. Its population peaked at 10,000 before the First World War but sits at a mere 517 souls as per the 2021 census.

We have already seen the Lloyd LS400 on tank tracks but the Ripley Creek Inn had a few other classic vehicles on the grounds including the pair of 1957 Chevrolets in the lead image.

The first one is this Bel Air two door wearing aftermarket rims. I suspected I would see these as they are featured on the inn’s web page but seem to have moved off the main street to a side street that also had the inn’s workshop and project buildings. The inn has several historical buildings under restoration which will presumably be added to their inventory once complete. The car itself appeared to be a solid driver in good shape.

The other 1957 sat across the dirt street and is a two door wagon in a lower trim but wearing stock hubcaps.

The interior looks to be in nice shape with aftermarket gauges and shifter perhaps hinting that the engine might have been warmed over a bit.

As you can see the vegetation is thick and flourishing especially given how far north Stewart is.

The inn property had all sorts of other treasures sprinkled about including two very small tug boats. Stewart has the distinction of being Canada’s most northerly ice free port. Edit – identified in the comments as a logging boom boat that moves logs .

There were many retired mechanical pieces in long term storage as well. This one is V8 powered (Chrysler LA?) but I am not sure what its function is. Mining equipment? Edit – identified in the comments as a logging skidder winch.

Another piece of old equipment labelled Ingersoll – Rand deserves a closer look.

I have to admit I was not sure what is going on here at first glance. It appeared to be two engines joined together but I soon suspected it to be an engine powered compressor. After a little bit of sleuthing I believe it to be an antique Ingersoll – Rand Type 20 portable air compressor that would normally have an axle at each end for towing. The rain cover also appears to be missing. These were popular in the 1920s and one source named the engine as a four cylinder gasoline Waukesha BUX connected to a two piston pump.

Around town this Pontiac two door appeared to be a driving work in progress and thus lacked any model badges. Perhaps it is a 1969 Grande Parisienne which is the Canadian variant of the Grand Prix.

The rear view is shared with a few of the historical main street buildings.

At the local (retired) fire-hall there were a number of interesting pieces outside as it used to serve as the museum. Stewart receives a massive amount of snowfall which is an enemy of old buildings like this and as I later learned it had developed some structure concerns.

Ever heard of an Arkösund Hydrocopter? In the fire-hall yard sat this Swedish built Hydrocopter which is an amphibious vehicle that is propeller driven with a boat like body utilizing either wheels or skis.

These were used in the 1979 film Bear Island partially filmed in Stewart. This movie was the most expensive Canadian movie at the time and featured many cost overruns and delays due to the significant snow this region receives. Despite an exciting premise based on an Alistair MacLean novel it was met with very average reviews. There were a number of other movies filmed here including Insomnia starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. The Ripley Creek Inn salvaged quite a few building supplies from the Insomnia set left overs.

This one is missing its engine and in relatively poor condition and was likely deemed not worth transporting out after the movie concluded filming.

Here is a internet sourced photo of one in better condition.

The fire-station also had a vintage firetruck naturally enough. My wife seemed oddly unimpressed that I was able to identify this Ford as a 1938 from a block away.

The nearby and excellent museum featured several vintage photos of the area including this one of nearby Hyder, Alaska.

Back on the main street a European registered Volkswagen van was spotted. These vans are brought over for longer term adventure trips and are not an uncommon sight.

Here is a North American registered van in the same vein which is quite a popular vehicle type along the Stewart-Cassiar highway.

And the more old school approach.

There are a number of American vehicles like this California registered Toyota 4Runner as close by Hyder is the most southern Alaska place to easily visit and does not require travelling the Alaska Highway.

Now for a couple heavy duty vehicles including this Ford dump truck.

The last vehicle I will feature is an unloaded logging truck with the trailer in its folded position.

There is a good cross over between those that enjoy old vehicles and buildings. Stewart has plenty of old building so I will feature just a few.

With the large population decline a rather large number of these were unoccupied and many had for sale signs that seemed unlikely to ever come down.

This Masonic hall dates from 1937 and was renovated in 1995 but sadly looks a little past its best these days.

That is a wrap for Stewart. Perhaps next time I can share some finds from our journey down the Alaska Highway.