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Me and My Collection: Angus McIntyre and Lyanne Smith

Angus McIntyre and Lyanne Smith collect public transportation memorabilia from all over Canada and U.S.A. - with a focus on Vancouver.

McIntyre's collection includes artefacts as large as fare boxes and as small as transit tokens. Smith's collection is more focused on paper media and small collectables issued between 1890 and 2000 by the various operating companies. Together their collections paint a detailed timeline of the province's transportation system. In the video below, McIntyre shares how the old fare boxes from the 1950s and 1960s worked, and how the prominence of paper money made them obsolete by the 1970s. McIntyre and Smith's collections are now on display as part of the All Together Now exhibition - on through March 19, 2017.

 

Angus McIntyre
Greater Vancouver Public Transit Memorabilia

Why do you collect?
I started my 41-year career as a Vancouver bus driver in 1969, so I had access to many bus parts after they were retired from service. I was able to save items that appealed to me for their design, engineering and historic value. Brill trolley buses were my focus because I drove them for 15 years.

How do you collect?
My first foray into collecting occurred when I was 18. I went with a friend to a scrap yard in South Burnaby. We paid a modest sum to salvage items from old Brill trolley buses. As time went on, I added to my collection through contacts in the transit system or through other collectors.

How does your collection relate to you?
My collection is directly connected to my job as a bus driver.

How does your collection relate to Vancouver?
Most of my transit collection dates from after 1955, the date the last streetcar ran.

How does your collection connect you with people?
It provides me with a way to share my knowledge of the transit system with transit enthusiasts and friends. When I give a talk, I illustrate my presentation by showing objects to the audience. I’ve also developed an extensive network of transit collectors over the years. I was fortunate to have mentors 50 years ago who took the time to explain Vancouver’s transit history to me. I am now in a position to mentor a younger generation of transit collectors.

Lyanne Smith and Angus McIntyre - public transportation collectors
Photo by Rebecca Blissett

Lyanne Smith
Greater Vancouver and Victoria Public Transit Memorabilia

Why do you collect?
I began collecting during my career at BC Hydro and continued when I worked with BC Transit and SkyTrain. In 1990, I met several old conductors and motormen who worked for BC Electric. I was moved by their stories and as a result, my collecting took on a more personal approach. I now collect to preserve the history of the employees who built the transit system in Vancouver and region.

How do you collect?
I acquired most of my collection while working at BC Transit. Retired employees and their families donated many items. I also obtained several through antique dealers. At one time, I had a dealer who would source out unique and rare items for me.

How does your collection relate to you?
Together, my husband and I have over 78 years of transit experience. The collection is very meaningful to us because the transit industry has played a huge role in our lives. We met many of our closest friends during our careers, so when we show the collection, it’s like a trip down memory lane!!

How does your collection relate to Vancouver?
It tells the story of Vancouver’s public transit system. It also talks about the employees who worked for the various companies that operated the system.

How does collecting connect you with people?
Over time, I’ve connected with several public transit employees and their families who were eager to share their experiences in the industry. I also engage with the general public, who are keen to learn more about this aspect of their city’s history.


 

Me and My Collection: Maurice Guibord


Photo by Rebecca Blissett

What do you collect?
I collect anything related to Expo 67 to keep alive the incredible memories I have of this event.

Why do you collect?
Expo 67 changed my life. As a teenager, this event greatly expanded my horizons and my interest in different cultures, architecture and in Canada’s place in the world. I found the concept of showcasing state-of-the-art innovations at a universal exposition truly exciting. I was so proud that Canada was able to create such a world stage.

How do you collect?  
I mostly purchase online or at flea markets. On a few occasions, other Expo 67 collectors shared their items with me. Sometimes, the memories are what we share and collect.

How does your collection relate to you?
The coming of age of Canada, of its culture and architecture, its art and music occurred just as I was coming into my own as a young man. It channelled my fascination with Canada’s place on the world stage and made me into an inveterate traveller.

How does your collection relate to Vancouver?
I have met many Vancouverites who trekked out to Montreal to enjoy Expo 67 as the highlight of Canada’s Confederation celebrations. They all have stories to tell and relish their experiences. Their pride in the Canadian-ness of the event justifies my own.

How does collecting connect you with people?
So many Canadians came together for this significant event. Canadians were vindicated by our success in pulling together a world-quality exposition—on a scale even Americans at that point had not achieved. Europe took notice, and Canada was able to stand high and proud. Anyone who attended Expo 67 can say as much.


Upcoming Event: Celebrating Expo 67 with Maurice Guibord

Guibord and All Together Now curator Viviane Gosselin acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 with insights, memories and collectables from this ground-breaking Canadian event, on Thursday, January 19 at 7pm. More details here.

Between the Bumpers - Q&A


On Thursday October 6, the Museum of Vancouver got to know another fascinating collector featured in current exhibition All Together Now: Vancouver Collector & Their Worlds. Kyle Seller's vintage pinball machines including, Funhouse (1988), Cyclone (1988) and Jack-Bot (1995) and classic arcade games like Donkey Kong are on display and also available to public to try out and play! Seller was joined by the current International World Pinball Champion, Robert Gagno and pinball expert and moderator of the night, Tommy Floyd. Together they walked the guests through the pinball room discussing the development of the game over the years, the history of each individual machine and how they got invovled in the world of pinball.


The night capped off with Seller opening up one of the machines revealing the inner workings of a dot-matrix-display (DMD) pinball machine, and Gagno's intense playing demo where he gave a glimpse into how a pro pinballer plays the game.

Be sure to check out our other upcoming pinball events: Happy Hour: TILT! Public Pinball Tournament and WIZARD MODE: Special film screening

 

 

ReCOLLECTING… 1960s Vancouver Band, The Collectors


Last week, we launched our latest exhibition ALL together NOW, featuring 20 eclectic collections. Everything from prosthetic limbs and pinball machines, to corsets and taxidermy are on display until January 8, 2017. Accompanying each collection, we have incorporated an interactive component to encourage visitors to engage and truly immerse themselves into the collections.


Rob Frith at Neptoon Records. Photo by Rebecca Blissett

One of the collectors included is Neptoon Records owner, Rob Frith. His stunning collection of concert posters offers a glimpse into the past, and an opportunity to discover the legendary artists that played shows in Vancouver. It’s interesting to consider some of the iconic venues that the city has lost, like The Cave Supper Club on Hornby Street or the Embassy Ballroom on Davie Street.


Vancouver band, The Collectors

Along with the posters, a listening station is setup where you can put on a pair of headphones, sit back and listen to some hidden gems which have been tucked away for far too long. Handpicked by Frith himself (from his own personal record collection) the playlist puts a spotlight on local indie artists and past Vancouver groups like sixties psychedelic band The Collectors (what a coincidence!)  It’s how we discovered their hypnotic track “Eyes” which we’ve gleefully featured in our highlight video of the exhibition’s opening night. Check it out below!

According to Wikipedia, The Collectors were originally the house band for CFUN radio during the early 1960s. After a handful of albums and soundtracks to Canadian films, lead singer Howie Vickers left the group in 1969. The remaining members of the band reconstituted themselves as Chilliwack, with Bill Henderson taking over lead vocals.

The tip of the iceberg

People like collecting. It's probably is connected back to our ancestors' hunter/gatherer days.

These days, we collect all sorts of of things. For some it's shoes, for others it's figurines. A lot of people have grandmothers who collected spoons or plates, or uncles that collected coins and stamps. There's even someone who collects computer viruses.

While some people are definitely hoarders, the displays that make up the MOV's new exhibition are comprised of "serious" enthusiasts who collect their obsession(s) with intent.

ALL together NOW: Vancouver Collectors & Their Worlds features 20 rare, beautiful and unconventional collections. There's artificial eye balls and prosthetics, corsets and drag queen costumes, pinball machines and juke boxes. These are not your typical collections!

The following images have been shared by visitors of the exhibition, illustrating just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the thousands of objects on display.

 

 

Self explanatory #typewriter #captionless #vancouver #travel

A photo posted by Charmayne Leontowich (@luckycharmayne) on

 

Very hard to choose which photo from the @museumofvan opening tonight. So here is a tiny portion of the toy section.

A photo posted by Georgia Straight (@georgiastraight) on

 

Nostalgia trip. #vancouverisawesome #vancity #mycollectionatmov #dailyhivevan #hellobc

A photo posted by Luigi Conti (@igiconti) on

 

Collection

A photo posted by monarch5 (@monarch5) on

 

This gem is currently on exibition at the Museum of Vancouver!! OMG!! Blast from the past!!

A photo posted by Reuben Bibera (@inocent24) on

In conversation with collector Lyanne Smith

Viviane Gosselin's picture

Museums like to show off their collections to the public. It’s rarely the other way around. And yet, the Museum of Vancouver is now scouting for the nifty, funky, unique private collections in the region for an upcoming exhibition.

Since beginning the search I’ve had several conversations with some incredible local collectors. A few months ago, I came across Lyanne Smith’s collections on Vancouver transit history. Listening to her talking about her collection was mesmerizing. I got a crash course on urban history using the lens of public transit from the perspective of someone who knew the biz firsthand. Below is a short Q&A with Lyanne. We’re just warming up here! There will be more on Lyanne and her accomplices (a tight network of local transit historians and collectors).

Please continue to check our blog. We’ll be providing updates on the exhibition planning process, featuring more collector profiles and teasing out some of the larger themes that come up every time we ask the question: why do people collect?

Viviane Gosselin: How would you describe your collection?

Lyanne Smith: My collection is an assortment of transit memorabilia from the Vancouver/Lower Mainland areas.  The bulk of the collection consists of historical documentation from each of the operating companies, including National Electric Tramway & Lighting Company, BC Electric (BCE), BC Hydro, Metro Transit, BC Transit, SkyTrain, Translink and Coast Mountain Bus Company. Over the years, I’ve collected several thousands of items.

VG: Why did you start collecting?

LS: I started driving a bus with BC Hydro in 1975 and began collecting various pieces of literature about the transit system at that point.  The same year, my parents gave me two “Reddy Kilowatt” items used in BC Electric (BCE) promotional campaigns in the 1950s.  Since BCE was the forerunner of the company I was working for, they thought I would like these pieces. It kind of kicked off my collection.  My collecting became an addiction after I met several of the old conductors/motormen from BCE in 1990 during the centennial celebrations. Having met these transit pioneers, the collection took an even more personal look at Vancouver’s transit history. In some ways I felt responsible for preserving the memory of men and women who dedicated a big part of their lives in the service of public transportation. Collecting is an emotional thing for me: I get so excited when I pick up a piece I hadn’t seen before! I want to know the whole story behind it.

VG: What kind of collector are you, how do you go about collecting?

LS: I focus on fare/transit tickets, the Buzzer, employee magazines, and promotional material, but I also have coin changers, transfer punches, tokens, and other interesting pieces related to that industry. I was given a lot of items from men and women who had worked with the transit system.  I also had one antique dealer who looked for unusual pieces for me. I’ve always been very strategic about going to specific antique stores and shows as well.

VG: What are some of your favourite collection items?

LS: Two of my favourites are the “Reddy Kilowatt” pieces my parents gave me: my father’s tie tack (see below) and my mother’s earrings.  

Another favourite is the rarest piece in my collection:  one of the only -- if not the only -- remaining ticket from the National Electric Tramway and Lighting Company. This company opened in 1890 and was the precursor of BC Electric. (see below)

VG: Looking at your collection of transit archives, what do you think people living in this region today can learn from that history?

LS: They will quickly realize that politics have always shaped the development of transit systems; Vancouver is no exception. Lack of funding, increased user fares, and the nature of expansions have always been at the centre of debates these past 100 years.  When people start delving into the historical literature and primary sources on Vancouver transit, they can see that every decade or two, new ideas were introduced for addressing those issues, so that the system could be maintained and expanded; it’s very typical of any transit system.  The thing I would like people to remember about the history of transit in Greater Vancouver is the front line employees who made the system run.  Without them, there would be no transit system in the Greater Vancouver area.

Collectors Amongst Us

Viviane Gosselin's picture

Call to Collectors for Upcoming Exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver

We want to know about your collection, the idea behind it and how it all started.

The Museum of Vancouver is working on a temporary exhibition project that will feature Vancouver-based collectors and their collections. The museum wants to explore the mindset of these passionate “hunters and gatherers” and showcase their favourite pieces.

The collections might focus on Vancouver but they don’t have to. We are interested in learning how the collections came to be and what they bring to the lives of the people who create them. We are looking for interesting, beautiful, rare, unconventional collections: small, big, noisy, musical, historical, digital, analogue – surprise us!

This project will generate new discussion about the future of collecting, and the role of private collectors as memory keepers and makers.

Please fill out this form (PDF) and email back to Viviane Gosselin: vgosselin@museumofvancouver.ca

The deadline for submitting your collection profile is September 30. 2015.

Photo above from Lyanne Smith's collection.

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