blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mr. Alder's museum

A model guard (with bike) at the entrance
A week last Sunday we flew with some friends from the Rockcliffe Flying Club to the old airport at Picton (a former RAF Bombing and Gunnery School) where we got talking to an extraordinary gentleman called Keith Alder. He had spent 25 years putting an aviation museum together, in his own home, and he was keen to show it to us. A friend of his lent us her car; five of us piled in with Chris driving, while John had a ride down the hill into town in the sidecar attached to Mr. Alder's bike. We drove along in formation, rolling up at the guardhouse that marks the entrance to his property, complete with a uniformed mannequin as guardsman.

Mr. Alder led us into the house, where his wife didn't seem in the least surprised to have visitors. "He brings people round all the time," she said. "We've had at least 300 this year."

Model aircraft of all shapes, sizes and origins were suspended from the ceiling, pictures and posters covered the walls, and on every surface was a variety of artifacts and momentos from the war years. Over the years, the collection––quite as inclusive as the exhibitions at Duxford's Imperial War Museum in the UK––has expanded until it became too extensive for his living room, and has spilled over into his garage, his barn, and onto his lawn. There are two large aircraft on the lawn! The fighter jet arrived in three pieces which he reassembled with loving care. The other one is a Beechcraft Musketeer from the RCAF base at Portage la Prairie.

In the barn, to John's absolute delight, because he learned his IFR skills in one at the start of his career as a pilot, we found a Link Trainer; these were first used in the 1930s.

Jill admires a corner of the permanent exhibition
in Keith's living room
The guardhouse was Mr. Alder's most recent project. Now that he has finished putting it together I asked him whether he had plans to create anything else. He said, "I'll think of something."

John talks to Keith about the Link Trainer
We could have stayed there for hours, and I'm sure he wouldn't have minded, but the lady at the airport had to have her car back, and we had to find some lunch before the restaurants closed, so we began to make a move to leave. And it was then that I had my chance to sit in the sidecar ("who'd like a ride this time?"-- I was quicker off the mark than Jill!) not going straight up the hill like the others in the car, but by a roundabout route via Picton's High Street, thronging with tourists. The road surface blurred past a few centimetres away as we thrummed along.

Going for my side-car ride ...
Mr Alder's business card is as idiosyncratic as his home. "Organizer - Promoter," it declares. "Used Land - Termites - Pet Fleas - Nails - Fly Swatters - Sailboat Fuel - Sky Hooks - Junk. Wars Fought -Revolutions Started - Governments Run - Aircraft -Lies Told - Bars Emptied - Round Squares - Antique Machinery - Also Miniskirts Shortened -  Musketeer."

... which I quite enjoyed!


Fuzzy said...

Been there myself with six other guys on motorcycles. We noticed the planes on the lawn as we drove by and thought there must be a story behind them so we turned around and drove back.
I think that was the highlight of our trip.
We'd ridden down from Orillia for the weekend to visit Lake On the Mountain and ride the point.
I wanted to show the guys Bird City which is right across the road from Kieth Alder's when the planes caught our attention.
Every once in a while you come across someone like Kieth and its like finding a hidden treasure!
Great spot. Stop in for sure next time you're down that way. It's a ten out of ten!!

Countygal said...

Keith is a unique person whom has an extraordinary talent of collecting interesting antiquities from days gone by. Diane and Keith have always been open and friendly to share their museum in their home and property.
I always enjoyed visiting Keith's museum and hear the history behind these artifacts & collections.
Thanks Keith for sharing!