This has been a bad year for cars off the road: our one regular McLaughlin, Bob and Doreen's beautiful 1937 Limo has a major engine problem, Harold's '51 has differential problems, Jim's '53 Skylark has a transmission leak, Bill's '29 is in the repair shop after his trip to Charlotte and the BCA Aftertour. But this year Homecoming was held in London, Ontario and hosted very capably by Murray and Mary. They selected the Best Western Plus Stonebridge Inn as the host hotel, a very nice choice.
Thursday morning we drove in our usual "by year" line up with our hosts leading in their "new to them" 1952 Super Convertible to Ilderton and the home of Bev and Bev Hughes. They have a wonderful collection of tractors, including a 1928 Eagle, a monster which weighs over 10,000 pounds and very rare. After lunch we headed off across country roads to our next stop, a return visit to Steve Plunkett's "Fleetwood Acres". He has added "the Fleetwood Grand Salon" a home for his prestige Cadillac's and it sure is a beautiful place. He drives his cars all the time, takes one out when he goes to lunch each day. Steve gave us a tour that lasted over 2 hours, telling stories about each car in his 60 car collection. It really is a fantastic place and he is generous with his charities.
Friday morning oue first stop was a wonderful place called "Ice Culture", in the little town of Hensall, about an hour or so from London. This company is privately owned and is the largest supplier of ice sculptures in the World! Check them out on the web at www.icesculpture.com. From there it was just 2 minutes up the street to a church where we had a great sandwich lunch. After lunch we visited a private collection of vintage motor cycles and bicycles all kept in the basement of a private home. Rick has been collecting since he was 14 years old. His collection is worth over $1,000,000.00 and he is a walking encyclopedia about motor cycles and bicycles. He rode a "high-wheel" bike from Toronto to Philadelphia some years ago, covering 100 miles a day. And we complain about not having AC and power steering in our old Buicks. We then headed for the Komoka Railway Museum Inc. where we visited their barn and then saw their hobby in action - miniature steam locomotives going around a track. We even got the opportunity to ride on them.
Saturday morning our first destination was the home of Henk and Irene Noordermeer, who have a very large collection of vintage radios, gramophones and other things that make music from the past. They had a special surprise for us: a couple of days before we arrived they received an addition to their collection, a "Band Organ" which they had purchased sight unseen from Belgium. This organ was about 40 feet long, 12 feet high and LOUD! It arrived in crates and had to be put together prior to our arrival, which they finished late on Thursday night. This huge piece of musical art provided the perfect back drop for our group picture. We toured the rest of their collection including many vintage players which Henk demonstrated for us. We also had the pleasure of seeing a Wurlitzer mounted in a trailer, which again was LOUD and playing many favorite tunes, including O Canada.
After a wonderful lunch in Komoka we headed for our next stop, a dairy farm. We were greeted very warmly by the owner of Stanton Farms. Mr. Stanton and his family operate this large dairy farm, 2,000 acres with 750 head of cattle. They milk the cows 3 times a day, and it is all computer controlled with some manual help. These cows never leave the barn, they are treated like pets, any mistreatment from an employee and that person is fired! The farm is very involved in DNA and genetics with artificial insemination and embryo removal. They export semen around the world. We finished our visit here with ice cream bars courtesy of the Stanton family, a wonderful visit.
We drove back to our hotel in and out of showers, in time to prepare for the final event of the tour, our banquet. I do not remember a Homecoming with so much rain, oh well, our Buicks do not melt and neither do we
story by Keith Horsfall, photos by Rob Fraser