Monday, January 13, 2014

Yet Another Top Notch Museum – Alberta Canada

When I was planning our Alberta/Canadian Rockies adventure, I noted one last attraction that was on our way back to Calgary and our flight home.  So, on our last full day of travel, we took the secondary route, (2A), south from Edmonton.  Highway 2A runs parallel to Rte. 2, i.e., which is the freeway. 

Before we reached our destination, we passed through the town of Millet Alberta.  The town was founded in 1891 and it has a population of about 2,100. 
In any case, this old piece of firefighting equipment caught our eye as we cruised through the town.  What surprised me was the age of this unit!  It was built by the Dominion Fire Company in Saskatchewan in 1938.  It served the town of Millet from 1939 until 1954!  I was assuming that it was quite bit older than that…and I was startled to see that it was in use in relatively recent times. 

This unit took 2 or 3 men to move it and it could be towed by other equipment.  Its 2 45-gallon tanks contained water mixed with calcium chloride to prevent freezing and the carbon dioxide tanks provided the needed pressure.

This was our goal for the day… It’s the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin Alberta.  The Reynolds-Alberta Museum opened in 1992 and is a project of Alberta Culture and Alberta Infrastructure.  This museum is one of 18 government owned and operated historic sites, interpretive centers and museums in Alberta.

The museum is named after Stan Reynolds, a Wetaskiwin businessman and world-renowned collector who donated a core collection of 1500 artifacts to the Province of Alberta.  Mr. Reynolds donated his core collection between 1982 and 1986, but he regularly continued to donate items from his collections until his death in 2012.  To learn more about this prolific collector, go to

It’s not always about the really, really old automobiles… This is a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad.  Its V8 engine developed a ‘whopping’ 162 horsepower!  Other than the Corvette, this was the least produced and most expensive Chevrolet back in 1955…which means it’s fairly rare.  It cost $2,571!  
As you move through the exhibits, it’s not hard to imagine that Stan Reynolds was a very successful auto dealer… At one point he operated 13 auto dealerships across Alberta!

Look up!  This is a 1918 Curtiss Canuck, one of over 1,200 built in Canada to train pilots during WWI.  This plane and its pilot, passenger or trainee could reach speeds of 74 mph with its 90 horsepower motor!  This plane made the first commercial flight in Alberta, flying copies of the Edmonton Journal to Wetaskiwin back in 1919.
At this point, I should clarify the mission of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.  Variety is the name of the game!  The museum’s role is to interpret “the impact of technological change in transportation, aviation, agriculture and industry from the 1890s to the present.  Visitors will see a wide variety of vintage automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, stationary engines, tractors, agricultural implements, aircraft and industrial equipment.”

Compare this beauty to the mostly vanilla but efficient designs that we have today!  This ‘boat’ of a car weighs almost 2.5 tons and it is powered by a 413 cubic inch engine that developed 350 horsepower.  This is a 1960 Chrysler Imperial PY1-M Southampton.  You could have purchased this luxury auto for $5,647.  It was designed to compete with the Lincoln and Cadillac models.
Of interest was the “Panelescent” lighting system in this auto.  This system didn’t use any light bulbs.  Instead it used phosphorescent ceramic material on the dash that glowed in the dark when the motor was running.

This original (unrestored) 1959 Cadillac Coup de Ville brings back many memories of my misspent youth in Michigan!  One of my teenage buddies, Tim Southwick, had this family car available for dating.  We would pick up our dates and go off to the drive-in near Big Rapids.  It was a bit of a drive from the family cottage at Croton MI.  I will say nothing else…except that the backseat of this Cadillac was huge!
This curvy exaggerated design was a hurried response to Chrysler’s flamboyant Imperial.  This car weighed almost as much as the Imperial…at 4,720 lbs. and its 390 cubic inch engine developed 325 horsepower.  It was great on the open road!  In 1959, you could have purchased this car for $5,252. 

This is an overview of part of the main floor of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.  To say that the collection is eclectic would be an understatement!

Stan Reynolds had a business slogan…'Stan takes anything in trade' and he did!  His first acquisition was a 1911 Overland touring car that he acquired in a trade and then decided not to sell.  Stan opened a private museum to the public in 1955.   He had collected 2,000 cars, 1,100 tractors, 500 trucks, 200 steam engines, 300 threshing machines, 800 stationary engines and 125 aircraft as well as military artifacts, Native American artifacts and toys.  Talk about hoarding!!

This is a 1905 Curved Dash Oldsmobile Runabout.  It cost $650 new!  With its curved dash, it was reminiscent of a horse drawn sleigh.  It was practical, easy to maintain and it was inexpensive.  This Oldsmobile was powered by a single-cylinder engine mounted underneath the seat.  The engine produced an amazing 7 horsepower!

The gasoline powered Curved Dash Oldsmobile is credited as being the first mass-produced automobile, meaning that it was built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts.  It was introduced by the Oldsmobile Company in 1901 and it continued in production through 1907.   Over 19,000 of these cars were built in total.  Ted Reynolds, Stan’s father, acquired this car in 1910.  This car was the best-selling automobile in the world from 1901 through 1905.

This is a 1912 Triumph “Free Engine” Model Motorcycle.  Its one-cylinder 4-stroke engine produced 3.5 horsepower.  This was the first Triumph motorcycle to have a clutch, allowing the engine to continue to run while the vehicle was stopped…hence, ‘free engine’.

This was the 4th motorcycle model produced by the Triumph Engineering Co. Ltd.   This British motorcycle company was founded in 1885 by 2 German immigrants.  The Company originally was in the bicycle business but in 1902 they built their first motorcycle.  The company went into receivership in 1983, was purchased and brought out of bankruptcy.  It now operates under the name Triumph Motorcycles Ltd.  To learn more, go to and

This is a 1912 Hupp-Yeats Electric Coach.  This 4-passenger auto was powered by 30 cell batteries operating a Westinghouse 48-volt electric motor.  It was steered from the back seat with a folding lever.  This was not an inexpensive vehicle.  Back in the day, it cost $4,000!  The original owner was a woman in Victoria British Columbia.  She only drove it for 405 miles before putting in a garage next to her mansion.  When Stan Reynolds bought the car in 1959, 10 years after the owner’s death, he had to have the side of the garage removed so as not to disturb the aviary for the former owner’s parrot.  “Louis” was not to be disturbed as per her will…

Robert Craig Hupp was a former employee of Oldsmobile and Ford.  He and his brother Louis founded the company in 1908. Production began in 1909.  In 1910, production increased by more than 5000 vehicles. Following disagreements with his financial backers Robert Hupp sold his stock in the Hupp Motor Car Company and established the short-lived RCH Automobile Company, later the Hupp-Yeats Electric Car Company.  See

Related Factoids:
  • ·        In 1914, Eric Wickman tried to establish a Hupmobile dealership in Hibbing Minnesota but he couldn't sell them so he started transporting miners in one of the vehicles.  In the process, the Greyhound Bus Lines was founded. 
  • ·        The National Football League was created at Ralph Hay's Hupmobile dealership in Canton, Ohio in 1920.

This is a 1920 McLaughlin Extra Special Master Six Touring Car.  6,400 of these cars were built at the McLaughlin plant in Oshawa Ontario Canada in 1920 alone.  The cost was $2,090 (C) for these high-end speedy 6-cylinder, 60 horsepower cars.  They had recessed walnut instrument ‘boards’ with a locking glove compartment, beveled glass in the rear windows and they were trimmed in mahogany and leather.  They were a favorite with rum runners in Alberta and they were nicknamed “whiskey sixes”.

The McLaughlin automobile company was started in 1876 as the McLaughlin Carriage Company, a blacksmith's shop in the village of Enniskillen Ontario.  The company began making horse-drawn carriages in the mid-19th Century.  The company was the most successful carriage builder of their time, producing more than 25,000 carriages a year.  By 1915, the company was making one carriage every ten minutes!  In 1907, in response to the changing world, the company began the manufacture of automobiles.

Oh…do I wish I had the money to own this spectacular and beautiful automobile!

This gem is a 1929 Duesenberg Phaeton Royale Model J.  These automobiles were built by Duesenberg Inc. in Indianapolis Indiana but their bodies were built by Alexander Wolfington’s Son, Inc. in Philadelphia.  This car weighs 5,000 lbs. (2.5 tons), and it has a wheelbase of 153.5 inches. It was powered by a straight-line 8-cylinder motor that produced 265 horsepower…and it had a top speed of 116 mph!

For a long and detailed history of Alexander Wolfington’s Son Inc. and the family of master coach builders, you can go to

Arguably this is one of the greatest automobiles ever built.  It cost $20,000 and during the depression, only key players in Hollywood and a very few others could afford one of these cars.   A total of 470 Duesenbergs were built between 1929 and 1937.

These cars were designed to compete with the finest automobiles of its time…such as Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz or Rolls-Royce.  The Dusenberg brothers, German immigrants, founded the company to build sports cars in Des Moines Iowa in 1913.  They did produce quality automobiles but they weren’t good businessmen or managers. 

It was after E.L. Cord, the owner of Auburn Automobile, bought the company in 1926, that the upscale Duesenberg was born.  Not only did he buy the original company, he also bought the brothers' engineering skills, talent and the brand name.  Cord challenged Fred Duesenberg to design an automobile that would be the best in the world.

Are you in the market for a Duesenberg?  I found one on the Hemming’s website…a 1930 Duesenberg J “Disappearing Top” Convertible Coupe that’s up for auction on January 16th and 17th.  The good news is that the auction estimate is only $2,000,000!  There other bargains available.  Check them out at

The interior was all chrome, top grade woods and leather…first class in every way!  These cars were a true status symbol and only the wealthiest could afford to own one.  Among the rich and famous who owned a Duesenberg were: Greta Garbo, Al Capone, Howard Hughes, Mae West, Clark Gable and William Randolph Hearst; families like the Mars, Whitney’s and Wrigley’s.  European royalty also coveted these automobiles.  The Duke of Windsor, the Queen of Yugoslavia and the Kings of Italy and Spain all owned Duesenbergs…

To view a number of Duesenbergs…along with Auburns, Cords and other luxury cars, all you have to do is visit the Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn Indiana.  For more information, go to We really enjoyed our tour of this museum when we visited it several years ago!

I love this head-on profile photo!  This Duesenberg reeks of power and money but, beyond the crassness of it all, it is indeed a beautiful work of art!  To learn more about the Duesenberg and its history, you can go to

Factoid: A Duesenberg SJ convertible coupe sold for $4.5 million in March 2013!

That’s it for my initial posting for our visit to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I say it all the time, but they just don't make cars today with as much style and class...all the cars nowadays look exactly the same. I really can't tell most time which is even a 'luxury' car. That white caddy is so cool! I wish I could go back in time for just one day and see what life was like back then.

    What a great way to spend the last day of your trip. It looks like an interesting museum...I don't know how comfortable I'd feel standing underneath that plane though...

    Take care, Dave!


  2. Wonderful museum! filled with lost memories of an elegant time past.
    It seems like everything looks the same today. There really is not the thought or personality that was put into the cars of yesterday.
    Thank you for sharing. Blessings, Catherine

  3. What a lovely museum! I just love it..!

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  4. wonderful page. any reference to, or photos of a BC license plate for the hupp yeats from Victoria. We have a good archive of old BC plates here. love to match a plate to the car.