The Starship Enterprise has travelled far and wide throughout the galaxy, encountering countless civilizations – and now it is sitting in a garage in eastern Toronto.
And its new owner’s plans for it are perfectly fitting for a Star Trek fan, tapping in to an ethos that has touched the heart of millions of Trekkies since the franchise first debuted on television in 1966.
Bill Doern, a 51-year-old who runs a boutique public relations and marketing firm in Toronto, watched reruns of the original Star Trek television series as a boy. His favourite character is Spock. His favourite captain is Picard. When his wife was pregnant with their first child, he hoped to name the boy Mr. Sulu (they ended up naming him Elijah).
Mr. Doern is, in other words, about as much of a Trekkie as a Trekkie can be.
The Saturday before Mother’s Day, he was driving home from doing some grocery shopping when he saw a scale replica of the Enterprise NCC-1701-A, last seen in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, released in 1991, on a neighbour’s front lawn.
Mr. Doern stopped to get a picture of the ship, which is about as big as a small car. As he was snapping a pic, the homeowner came out with a “For sale” sign.
“It’s just pure serendipity, because I am a huge Star Trek fan,” Mr. Doern says. “You’ve got the perfect nerd driving past the perfect nerd toy.”
It turns out the seller is a subcontractor who was working last year on renovations of the SilverCity Richmond Hill Cinema, where the replica was installed. Rather than chuck it in the garbage, he brought it home. With the ship taking up too much space, and not being a Star Trek fan, the man decided to sell it.
After quickly checking with his wife – “She likes watching Star Trek with me, but this is next-level nerd,” Mr. Doern says – Mr. Doern bought it for $600, a steal since the original asking price was $1,200.
It is now sitting in his garage.
It’s rare for large replicas such as this to show up on the market, with most either “getting trashed” or sold to private collectors, says Daniel Toole, spokesperson of Starfleet, the International Star Trek Fan Association.
“The last time there was an influx of Star Trek props like that was right after the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas closed. So, this is definitely a find,” he says.
Like any die-hard Trek fan would, Mr. Doern posted a photograph of the ship on a Star Trek fan page on Facebook.
“I’ve had many people express an interest in bringing their Klingon groups and things like that to come and take a picture with it,” Mr. Doern says.
And that brings us to Mr. Doern’s plans for the famed spaceship.
It has to do with what Mr. Doern has always been drawn to about Star Trek. Yes, he loves the technology, and he loves watching reason prevail over fear and bigotry. But there’s something else that has kept him as a fan all these years.
“I guess there’s something about what Star Trek is that is maybe a value system that I’m drawn to. It’s that sharing and involving others and finding ways to work together,” Mr. Doern says.
Plenty of people on that fan page have told Mr. Doern that they’d love to help him restore the replica.
“Structurally, it’s in fine shape,” Mr. Doern says. “But it’s quite dirty, the lights don’t work. Some of the bulb casings and things like that are broken. There are some places where there’s some paint touch-ups required.”
Getting fellow Trekkies to pitch in is hardly an impossible show. Fans funded the recently released documentary about Star Trek Deep Space Nine, called What We Left Behind, through an IndieGoGo campaign.
With the help of some fellow fans willing to pitch in and perhaps a curator, Mr. Doern hopes to clean off the deep-space grime, fix the ship up and set it up somewhere for all to come and see.
“My vision for it is to just give it back to the community,” he says. “I know people just like me would probably travel to get a picture in front of this thing.”
Fans will likely flock to it, Mr. Toole says.
“Star Trek fans are some of the most dedicated in all of fandom. There are even trips out to Vulcan in Alberta on a regular basis, simply because it’s named Vulcan,” he says.
Where would the Enterprise be on display? Mr. Doern doesn’t know. Who would fund it? Again, he’s not sure. Things are still so early he’s still figuring it all out.
Every captain of the Enterprise has had a solid sense of optimism and Mr. Doern is no different. There is space for the ship in his garage, but that will not be its final frontier.
“One of the things I’m hoping will happen,” he says, “is either a corporate sponsor or group of individuals will get together and we’ll find a way to preserve this piece of Toronto heritage.”