Equipment dealer, museum founder Stan Reynolds passes

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Memorial services are expected to be held later this spring for the auto and ag equipment dealer whose collections of vintage iron were the basis for the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.

Stan Reynolds of Wetaskiwin, Alta. died Feb. 9 in Edmonton at age 88, the provincial government reported Monday.

Reynolds’ “lifelong interest in machines of all types led him to assemble a very valuable collection which he generously donated to the people of Alberta,” Premier Alison Redford said in a statement. “His vision, irrepressible spirit and example of public service will be sorely missed.”

Julia Parrish of CTV Edmonton reported Monday that Reynolds had been in declining health in recent years, and that a formal memorial is to be held sometime this spring.

Born in Wetaskiwin in 1923, Reynolds set up a used-auto dealership there shortly after his discharge from the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1945. He later expanded that dealership to include sales of new and used cars, trucks, farm machinery, industrial equipment, house trailers and airplanes.

Later in the 1940s, after acquiring a 1911 Overland touring car as part of a trade-in, Reynolds began collecting vintage autos and over time expanded his collections into tractors, steam engines and aircraft.

According to the museum’s website, Reynolds would travel across Canada and the U.S. “collecting examples of the machines that had played a part in Alberta’s past.”

In his own plane, and “knowing farmers stored old machinery along hedgerows or out in the back 40, Stan took his search to the air. Cruising low over western Canadian farmland he’d drop the plane down near the farmstead where he spied something interesting.”

“Everyday, gritty life”

“Without his foresight and determination, many of the artifacts integral to telling the history of Alberta and of Canada would still be decaying behind caragana hedges or have met their end at the junkyard,” the museum said. “Instead, Stan gave them new life as storytellers.”

Reynolds, the museum noted, did not limit his interests to shiny, rare, new and/or never-used items, but sought “things that showed that they’d been used over and over again, that showed how they’d been used, and why they’d been used.

“That’s why Stan wanted you to see a tractor with a wash basin hammered into a wheel to repair it. Stan wanted the things that had been a part of everyday, gritty Alberta life. Stan collected the things with history.”

By 1955, he had opened the private Reynolds Museum to house his collections and, in 1974, approached the province about developing a new museum based on them. He donated about 850 such artifacts to the province in 1981, as the foundation for the 1992 opening of Wetaskiwin’s publicly operated Reynolds-Alberta Museum.

Reynolds, the province noted, also “made other significant donations to the province’s museums, including collections of archeological material, military artifacts, and objects associated with Alberta’s settlement and development.”

Reynolds was named to both the Order of Canada and Alberta Order of Excellence in 1999.

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