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A Collection of Collections

We’ve seen some pretty impressive and interesting collections over the past few years. Here are a few to enjoy all over again and hopefully encourage you to send in stories and photos of your own collections!

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Letter-Perfect Collections: Typewriters

Letter-Perfect Collections: Typewriters

Pic: Crandall (1884), the first typewriter to print from a single element, long before IBM’s “golf ball” lettering device

“Collecting antique typewriters has been a wonderful experience for me over the years. It all began in 1989, when I spotted an intriguing item high upon a shelf in a cluttered junk shop-which turned out to be a Caligraph typewriter from the early 1880s. When I read up on the subject and learned that literally hundreds of distinct typewriters were manufactured in the early days of typing, I was hooked. I also love to restore these finely built machines. It takes a lot of patience, but the pleasure of exploring and refurbishing the mechanisms of a 100-year-old typewriter, and the end result-a beautiful, smoothly operating artifact-is worth it.

From July 2007 to January 2008, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada put 25 my machines from my collection on display in an exhibit called “Early Typewriters-Gateway to the Information Age.” As the popularity of the exhibit demonstrated, typewriters hold a special nostalgia for many of us. They create an immediate connection to the past, and you can’t help but marvel at how this tool has impacted all of our lives.”

-by Martin Howard
Featured in More of Our Canada, July 2009

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Character Collections: Betty Boop

Character Collections: Betty Boop

“My Betty Boop collection began with a nickname. In September 1991, I began a new job as an educational assistant at E.C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ont. Another woman, Sue Dempsey, began working there as a teacher around the same time and we became fast friends. Within the first year, she began calling me Betty Boop, and the nickname has certainly stuck. Sue gave me my first Betty Boop item-a T-shirt.

“I have more than 250 Betty Boop items and I try to display them everywhere, from my van to my house to my office. I even have a decal of Betty Boop on the back of my motorcycle helmet. I own a lot of the typical collector’s items you’d expect to find such as jewellery, clothing, calendars, pictures, fridge magnets, movies and figurines.”

“I don’t know why I waited so long, but it wasn’t until 1996 or so that I finally asked Sue why she started calling me Betty Boop. Aside from being a brunette, I don’t have much in common with her. I don’t have her green eyes and I certainly don’t have her figure or her unique voice. Sue replied that it was Betty Boop’s energy and attitude she saw in me. I can live with that.”

-By Brenda Kristensen
Featured in Our Canada, October/November 2009

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Inspired Collections: Trains

Inspired Collections: Trains

“My collection started in 1989. I was to be installed as president of the Quebec Rebekah Assembly, a fraternal organization that donates to and raises funds for various charitable programs. I was expected to put together a fundraiser to present at the time with a theme for my year as president and an emblem to go with it.

As hard as I tried, I could not come up with anything I thought suitable for the fundraising campaign, until one afternoon, while watching a soap opera, I heard one of the characters tell another that she must think positive about a problem she was having.

Everything suddenly fell into place for my program. It was so simple. My theme became “The Power of Positive Thinking” and it was an easy leap from that to the Little Engine That Could for an emblem. Nothing is more positive than the Little Engine climbing up the hill singing ‘I think I can, I know I can.'”

-By Shirley Vaughan
Featured in Our Canada, December/January 2011

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Exotic Collections: Sand

Exotic Collections: Sand

“You can collect anything, be it key chains, cigar bands or vintage cars. The search, discovery, information and the memories created by having a collection provide continuous pleasure. Collecting makes you more aware of your surroundings.

Back in 1956, my grandmother, Sara Schouten, gave me a bag containing roughly 40 sugar packs. I never gave them much thought until 1963, when I returned to Europe on holidays. I began noticing the sugar packets in restaurants. They were colourful, interesting and told a story of places I had visited. Being of Dutch heritage-I was born in the Netherlands-the fact they cost nothing to collect was also a big factor. Now, when my wife, Monika, and I go out for dinner, a sugar pack displaying the restaurant’s logo is an added plus to the evening. Disneyland, Expo 67, Canada’s Centennial and our vacations are all remembered because of a cup of coffee or tea.

About ten years after starting my sugar collection, I began another peculiar collection: Sand. In 1978, Monika and I travelled to Jamaica and, as we are avid beachcombers, we scooped up some sand and picked up a couple of small shells and placed them in a bag. So far, I’ve collected 43 containers of sand from 29 countries. My collection includes pink sand from Bermuda, pure-white sand from San Andrés in Columbia and black volcanic sand from the Azores and Costa Rica. The finest sand I’ve found comes from the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa. It’s quite incredible how no beach or desert sand is alike. They all have a different colour and texture.”

-By Henry Schouten
Featured in More of Our Canada, July 2010

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Catty Collections: Garfield

Catty Collections: Garfield

“My love affair with Garfield the cat began on June 19, 1978. That was the day a new comic strip was introduced in the newspaper featuring a crusty cat, his sad-sack owner and, later, a sloppy dog left behind by a friend.

I know everything there is to know about Garfield. I remember when I was in Grade 8, I couldn’t wait to see what this cat would be up to every day. My father began saving the comics for me and I’d cut them out and paste them in a book.

Every time we moved, which was often with my dad being in the military, my Garfield collection was the first thing I packed up and the last thing I unpacked. I guess it was a way of keeping me grounded, a constant in my life that I could control despite all the moving we did.”

-By Danna Clark-Goulden
Featured in More of Our Canada, March 2011

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“Pop” Culture Collections: Coca Cola

“It all began with a pop culture icon. When I saw that retro tin sign with the familiar red and white logo on it, I just had to have it. As I dug into my purse to make the purchase, little did I know it was the beginning of a collection that would eventually fill every nook and cranny in my house.

Coca-Cola items first became the inspiration for my kitchen decor, but before long my entire home was a testament to marketing in action!”

-By Karen Audet
Featured in Our Canada, August/September, 2008

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Vintage Collections: Old Magazines

Vintage Collections: Old Magazines

Pic: Chatelaine ad from the March 1944 issue.

Before the advent of television-and even with radio around-print advertising was crucial for galvanizing Canada through the Great Depression and two World Wars. It also played a role in how the Cold War was perceived. Print ads, posters and articles from the various eras often used immediate, forceful messages to appeal to Canadians, and were very striking visually. But even beyond their bold images and colour, they represent the mentality of a young nation coming of age.

-Collection of Paul Malon
Featured in More of Our Canada, November 2010

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Moving Collections: Model Cars

Moving Collections: Model Cars

“My mom bought me my first model kit when I was 13 years old, not too long after my father passed away. It was a large ship, which took me about five years to finish. Each year, Mom bought me a car or truck model kit and I would tuck them away for another day.

I came across the stash of models again at the age of 20 and my interest was rekindled. The first one I put together was a yellow Corvette. It took some time to finish because I painted it by hand. Eventually, I learned to use a can of spray paint instead. Though each model was different, on average I built one every few months. The last one I made was a black Corvette.”

-By Mike Frank
Featured in Our Canada, June/July 2011