Stan Reynolds’ legacy lives on at mu­seum

Calgary Herald - - DRIVING. CA - GREG WIL­LIAMS

Acol­lec­tion of rare and stun­ning me­chan­i­cal ar­ti­facts re­sides at the Reynolds-Al­berta Mu­seum in We­taski­win.

world-class trans­porta­tion fa­cil­ity with public gal­leries, restora­tion shop and li­brary, RAM owes its ex­is­tence to the late Stan Reynolds — a col­lec­tor’s col­lec­tor.

“Pas­sion­ate isn’t the word,” said By­ron Reynolds on the phone from We­taski­win as he talked about his un­cle’s ac­quis­i­tive na­ture. “He was driven be­yond pas­sion, es­pe­cially if the ar­ti­facts per­tained to mech­a­nized as­pects of civ­i­liza­tion in Western Canada.”

Reynolds was 88 years old when he died Feb. 9 in an Ed­mon­ton hospi­tal. His nephew By­ron said he was work­ing “right to the very end.”

Born in 1923 in We­taski­win, Stan­ley Ge­orge Reynolds worked first with his fa­ther, Ted, at the fam­ily auto deal­er­ship. Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, Reynolds flew Mosquito fighter planes dur­ing night sor­ties, and re­turned to We­taski­win in 1945 when he was dis­charged from the Royal Cana­dian Air Force. Those few years dur­ing the war was the only time Reynolds was away from We­taski­win.

Back home, Reynolds fol­lowed his fa­ther’s lead, open­ing a used car deal­er­ship. With a shrewd mind for busi­ness, Reynolds even­tu­ally par­layed the used ve­hi­cle store into a new car out­let, also sell­ing agri­cul­tural equip­ment and air­craft.

Reynolds took just about any­thing on trade, from cars to mo­tor­cy­cles to steam trac­tors to air­planes, but he was es­pe­cially in­ter­ested if it was an older piece of ma­chin­ery that had a con­nec­tion to Al­berta and the peo­ple who helped pioneer the prov­ince. He filled fields with row af­ter row of rusty, if not ex­actly derelict, equip­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to RAM’S web­site: “Stan wanted you to see a trac­tor with a wash basin ham­mered into a wheel to re­pair it. Stan wanted the things that had been a part of ev­ery­day, gritty Al­berta life. Stan col­lected the things with his­tory.”

Reynolds put his fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to use as he flew at low al­ti­tude over farm prop­er­ties in the prairies. From this bird’s-eye view Reynolds could spot the glint of chrome on a head­light ring or the patina of rust on a fen­der.

He would land, or else note the lo­ca­tion, and re­turn to ne­go­ti­ate on the equip­ment. Of­ten, the item in ques­tion would then show up on a trailer in We­taski­win, where it was off-loaded at one of Reynolds’ prop­er­ties.

In 1955, he started the pri­vate Reynolds Mu­seum, spo­rad­i­cally open­ing his col­lec­tion to the public. More of­ten than not, how­ever, he loaned ar­ti­facts to other in­sti­tu­tions to help in­ter­pret Al­berta’s past.

By 1974, Reynolds knew the col­lec­tion needed to be in a per­ma­nent, public home. That was the year Reynolds of­fered the best of his mech­a­nized col­lec­tion to the gov­ern­ment, and by ex­ten­sion, the peo­ple of Al­berta.

Be­tween 1981 and 1986 the prov­ince ac­cepted some 1,500 pieces of equip­ment from Reynolds, and in 1992 the Reynolds-al­berta Mu­seum opened in a pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity.

Stan Reynolds “had the tenac­ity to save Al­berta’s his­tory be­fore other peo­ple were ever think­ing that way,” said Cyn­thia Black­more, head of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Reynold­sAl­berta Mu­seum.

“The Reynolds-al­berta Mu­seum grew from one man’s dream, be­com­ing the pro­vin­cial trea­sure we have to­day in We­taski­win,” Black­more said.

Ac­cord­ing to Black­more, Reynolds lived a full life.

“He did it all,” she said. “He was a businessma­n, a col­lec­tor, a pi­lot and a phi­lan­thropist — he was all of those things, and in what­ever role, he was al­ways com­mit­ted to build­ing and con­tribut­ing to the prov­ince of Al­berta.”

Reynolds was rec­og­nized in 1999 with the Al­berta Or­der of Ex­cel­lence and in 2000 with the Or­der of Canada. Thanks to his in­ter­est in pre­serv­ing his­toric air­craft and other avi­a­tion his­tory, in 2009 he was in­ducted into Canada’s Avi­a­tion Hall of Fame — it­self a part of the Reynold­sAl­berta Mu­seum.

“We’ll not see the likes of an­other man like him for a long time,” nephew By­ron said.

Pho­tos, Ed Kaiser, Post­media News

Stan Reynolds, shown here in a 1926 Ford Model T, was renowned as a col­lec­tor’s col­lec­tor and was es­pe­cially in­ter­ested if the item had a con­nec­tion to Al­berta and the peo­ple who helped pioneer the prov­ince. Be­low and right, the Reynolds-al­berta Mu­seum...

Wal­ter Tychnowicz, Post­media News

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