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Joanne Will
Joanne Will

Joanne Will

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In photos: A vintage car buff's dream come true in Calgary

Ron Carey spent years travelling everywhere to scour barnyards, farm sales and auctions, looking for anything related to the auto industry. Driving through Wyoming one year, he spotted a rare 1932 Tandem Federal stuck in the weeds in a farm yard. He pulled in to inquire about the truck but the owner was reluctant to sell. "The guy was one of those hoarders and wouldn't part with it unless I found him a tractor. So I found a John Deere tractor and made the trade," says Carey. Like all his other finds, Carey brought it home to restore, patch, reupholster, re-chrome, paint and polish before adding it to the collection. The collection represents the evolution of the automotive industry including memorabilia, gas pumps, supply trucks, family jalopies and tools. Trailer queens and luxury autos are a minor part of the collection but combining them all - he had too much. So he donated the entire $5-million collection to Heritage Park Historical Village. Heritage Park has sprawled along the shores of the Glenmore Reservoir for 50 years. A visit to Calgary would be incomplete without strolling the wooden sidewalks to pop into rustic buildings and mansions brought in from the towns and villages of Southern Alberta. An old amusement park entertains the kids with a classic carousel and a barnyard is full of chickens and pigs to admire. A steam train loops the village, the S.S. Moyie paddle wheeler plies the waters of the reservoir and antique autos and horse-drawn carriages share the dirt roads. With more than 180 attractions and exhibits, it's the largest living history museum in Canada, representing everything from the fur trade to the drive-in theatre of the 1950s. Almost everything has been donated to the park, with the largest and most valuable personal contribution coming from Carey. Alida Visbach, president and CEO of Heritage Park, says the donation helped reshape the facility. The resounding popularity of the collection was the catalyst to create a 75,000-square-foot replica of the Calgary Public Market in 2009. "Heritage Park is a charitable organization whose mission it is to connect people with the settlement of Western Canada," says Visbach. "With the construction of the entire new development that includes not only the Gasoline Alley Museum, but also the Haskayne Mercantile Block, the Engineered Air Plaza and the Bissett Heritage Wetlands, Heritage Park has become a year-round operation." More than 50 automobiles from Carey's collection are on display along with some from other car enthusiasts. Gasoline Alley, restaurants and the charming shops in Heritage Town Square are open year-round and will take a few hours to explore. The majority of the park is open seasonally from mid-May to late October. For more information, go to heritagepark.ca.

Mar 05, 2015

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Joanne Will is a writer and researcher based in Vancouver. She grew in a vintage car-loving family and vehicles she has driven and loved (some of which came with relationships) include a Lada Sputnik, a Porsche Targa, a BMW wagon, a Volvo, and a rusted-out red Datsun truck, which she learned to drive in.

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