Day One: Let it Snow, Rain, and Freezing Rain from Abbotsford to Victoria

Today was the start of my three night trip to Victoria, and I planned my journey to make the most efficient use of my time and resources.  First off, I got up early and did some ebay shipping stuff.  I had sold two items in the past day, and since I would miss one of my normal shipping days I prevailed upon my brother-in-law to bring them across the border to Sumas to mail them for me.  I got them both prepped mostly the night before, but I had to print off a shipping label for one in the morning.  I headed off to Aldergrove to leave them in his garage.  Of course this was the first day in a long time that we actually got snow, and it was lightly falling as I made my way to Aldergrove.  I gave myself ample time, so after I left the parcels I quietly entered the house to visit the cat, LB.


Who can resist such fluffy cuteness?!?!

From there, it was on to the freeway and to the ferry, a journey that included stop and go traffic, rain, snow, flurries, and heavy snow.  I took the Tsawwassen – Duke Point ferry to Nanaimo to visit some of the thrift stores and antique shops up there.  The sailing was fine and in the middle of the Strait of Georgia we found snow flurries and the captain made an announcement that a gray whale was flopping around out there.  So I got to do some whale watching, just like I did on the “Friendship Cruise”.  From there, it was off the ferry and out to Coombs to an antique shop that has yielded some good finds in the past, called “High Class” Junque.


Nanaimo through the fog and flurries.


Harbour traffic.


“High Class” Junque store, site of my first finds.

I poked around in that store for quite a while, and I bought two pieces that I intend to flip on ebay.  Sadly, there was nothing here for my collection.  But the sky was getting brighter, so I spent some time next door at the Coombs Country Market and bought a couple of things to give away for Christmas.  The S.O.S. thrift store in nearby Parksville usually has some treasures but it and the local Salvation Army were both busts, so I headed back to Nanaimo through some very thick snow.


My finds from “High Class” Junque: A Long Bell bowl made by Buffalo China and a pinecone pattern fruit nappy made by Tepco.  Since they are both American made, there is no place for them in my collection.

I stopped at a few thrift stores in Nanaimo, and there was nothing but crap.  I couldn’t find anything there for my collection or to flip.  I was tempted by some wine glasses at one store, but I wanted to save my money.  The last store I stopped at had a stack of Medalta soup plates that I ended up picking up.  They are plain, but sturdy like the Alberta clay they were made from.  My next destination was the Nanaimo Value Village, where I have had some luck in the past with some vintage crafting stuff.  By now, it was 3:15 pm and it was starting to get darker out.  I didn’t linger too long in the store but I did find a pair of Diesel jeans that I can make some money on, and on on the bottom shelf, I spied with my little eye…


A Canadian Railway News fruit nappy.  The company has evolved from operating lunch counters and selling newspapers and is now operating such restaurants as Harvey’s, Milestones, Montana’s, New York Fries, and others. 

After this, I headed to Chemainus to visit one of the antique malls, but it to was a disappointment.  I bought a Steitz butter pat that I already had in my collection because it was only $10 and I didn’t want to leave empty handed.  By then, I was tired from the early morning and hungry, so I stopped at a grocery store in Duncan for a wrap, filled up the tank, and drove through more ugly weather to Victoria, and parked in front of my hotel, the Harbour Towers.  At this point, my brain was only working at 30% capacity.  When I walked in, some random guy asked me if I was the driver.  Since I had just parked in a passenger drop off zone in front of the hotel, I said that I was a driver.  Turns out, he thought I was a cab driver and I had to inform him that I was simply a guest at the hotel, checking in.  I hope Day 2 is more exciting.

Vancouver and the Value Village Circuit

Vancouver is an interesting quandry when it comes to collecting for me.  Do I want to make a trip into town on the off chance that I might find something?  It usually a fruitless search but the occasional find plants a seed of doubt in my mind.  I try to rationalize such trips by tacking it on to something else:  A visit to an art exhibit at UBC, picking up a Sunday afternoon shift at one of our western library branches, or in this case, doing a partial Value Village circuit.  My intentions are to always get to the antique shows at the Croatian Cultural Centre as it opens but true to form, I got there half an hour later than I intended (due to a combination of stopping at the bank, grabbing a coffee, and the distractions of cute cat videos on the internet)

I found adequate parking, entered and muscled my way through the first room of antique vendors.  The show organizers cram as many tables as humanly possible into the venue, leaving little room for the shoppers to maneuver.  Its like a game of Pac Man, avoiding people and looking for a clear path between the tables, and trying to get down every aisle.  I was surprised that I actually found two treasures.


A dinner plate from the St. Francis Hotel, which was located in downtown Vancouver across the street from the current Waterfront Skytrain Station and Seabus Terminal (formerly the CPR station.  The envelope is from Buscombe & Co, the company that imported the plate from England.  Follow the above link for more information about the hotel!

I purchased both items from fellow members of the Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectibles Club, and I was very glad to get them.  If this was the only find of the day, I would have been satisfied.  Although I didn’t need anything else to justify the trip, there were multiple Value Villages beckoning.  The first one I went to is south of the Croatian Cultural Centre on Victoria Drive, and is often more trouble than its worth.  I had to go around the block twice to find parking, and there were no collectible treasures to be found.  But anything for the collection would be gravy on top, because I was really searching for things that I could resell on ebay.  To fund my collection, home repairs, and holidays, I buy and flip thrift store stuff.  Its mainly designer jeans from Diesel, but I also will do True Religion and 7 For All Mankind.  I found a couple pairs of jeans, spotted some Lego in a display case that was missing all the mini figures, and saw some interesting folk.  When I was checking out the Lego, there were two women at the checkout taking their sweet time.  But they were wearing furry costumes, but without the heads.  There was no good opportunity to take a picture, but though it was odd, I support their personal expression.

After leaving the store on Victoria Drive, I headed back to Grandview Highway and to the Transcanada to go to the Value Village on United Boulevard in Coquitlam.  I had way better luck with the parking situation there, and was able to enter the store promptly.  I started my circuit of the store at the jewellery cases, and seeing no cufflinks, I started zig zagging through the housewares.  I searched the dishes down the aisle from bottom to the top, and when I reached the very end on the top of the shelf, I saw the telltale sign of a stack of hotelware:  Thicker rounded edges.  Since they were on the top shelf, I couldn’t see if they were a stock pattern which I have seen a lot of at this location.  I reached up, pulled them down, and the shock at what I found was matched only by the sticker price:  Six Western Canada Steamship Company side plates for $12.99!


Western Canada Steamship Company plates in the basket that barely rolled.

I would have paid more for a single plate, and was over the moon.  I like to use this pattern when I have people over for dinner, and I have quite a few place settings.  Dishes from WCSSCo were much more common a few years ago, but the supply has dried up.  When I first started collecting, I found a cereal bowl at the Maple Ridge Value Village which got me interested in the pattern, and I later picked up a box full of the dishes at an antique show.  I’m very lucky to have found these.  Of course I hoped to find more and scoured the shelves to no avail.  I tracked down a rolling shopping basket that still had partial functioning of the wheels (also a Value Village rarity, where the basket wheels are more lint than wheel).  The rest of the store was a bust, so it was on to the next stores.

I ended up visiting three more: Two more in Coquitlam (North Road and Lougheed Hwy) and Maple Ridge.  I bought an assortment of jeans, a book, and a Scene It Marvel boardgame that will end up on ebay before the Christmas rush is over.  Maple Ridge had the added bonus of running into a colleague from the Pitt Meadows Library whon I don’t often see anymore since I am full time in Clearbrook.  All in all, it was one of the most successful and exciting trips that I’ve been on to the thrift stores.  As I write this, I’m on the ferry to Nanaimo where I will hopefully find more treasures before I head down the Island for a three night stay in Victoria.


This shows the pricing difference between stores.  $9.99 for a modern Vancouver Club cup and saucer.  This was spotted at the Value Village on North Road where an older fellow was also seen walking around wearing a Mexican poncho.


Vancouver Island: Day Two

Well I’m back in the line for the ferry at the end of a long day waiting to head back to the mainland. It’s been a long hot trip and today I stopped and probably a dozen different stores in search of treasure. But of course it all started out at the campground and after I packed everything up had a shower and checked out I headed into Nanaimo and went to the first thrift store I could find. And wouldn’t you know I actually found something completely new! 

This is a mug from BC Ferries that was used on their very short-lived Pacificat Fleet, high speed ferries that barely saw service before they were mothballed and sold off

What a fortuitous start to the day!  The next thrift store was a bit of a dud but after that I found something that looked a little bit… familiar.  Another BC Ferries mug.

An action shot of the mug as I found it.

Once again I barely got into the car before I spotted another thrift shop and found a plane creamer in the stock pattern. The finds restarting it a little bit more interesting, and a little bit older. The mugs from the BC Ferries date back to the late nineties or early 2000. The creamers made by John Maddock & Sons and the pattern is called Rosebud.

Is it starting to get repetitive!  Because at the next thrift store I found yet another BC Ferries mug, and some other stock pattern hotelware restaurant pieces. I found a stock pattern gravy boat three side plates in a pattern that was used by Canadian Railway News, and two small plates with Evergreen border.

After all this time getting in and out of thrift stores it was time it’s a real antique shops. The first two antique malls didn’t have anything but the third one I found some neat pieces.  A few were plain, but there was an oval bowl from the Tzouhalem Hotel and a tiny butter pat/ice cream shell.  Even though it is from Toronto, I didn’t want to leave it behind.  It had been in the shop for a few years (it also had a dead fly in it) and the price dropped low enough for me.

But now it was late afternoon and the whole reason for my trip to this island was approaching. It was the antique show in Duncan BC and I made arrangements to trade a mug from the Union Steamship Company for a hotel butter pat.  Before making the trade-off I did a quick Buzz around the show to see if I could find any other Treasures but I didn’t find a thing. I did have a nice time talking with vendors and meeting other collectors that have the same interest and giving my contact information.  I’m always looking to buy or trade but I also enjoy seeing other collections of hotelware so I could learn what is potentially out there to be found. I ended up buying a plain restaurant Ware mug to add to my collection as well.

The crowds! Who knows how many were bought before i got inside!

The Coldstream Hotel was near Vernon, BC

Vancouver Island: Day One

After my marathon trip to the Interior, I had half a day at home to run errands before an upcoming cruise the following Saturday.  Every year there is an antique show in Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island that I like to attend and visit some of the local antique malls and thrift shops to find more hotelware pieces.  I woke up at 5:30 AM and was on the road to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to catch the 7:45 AM sailing to Nanaimo, a two hour journey.  While driving through Langley, I saw the digital ferry information display showing how full the sailings were.  I saw forty minutes away, and the ferry was already 80% full!  I booked it the rest of the way, and ended up just barely squeaking on to the ferry.  The sailing was uneventful, and I found myself at the Nanaimo Value Village at about 10:30 AM.


My bug encrusted car.


No hotelware at this Value Village, but I found a rather nice midcentury modern landscape painting and a pair of cufflinks.  You can’t see it in the picture but the price on the painting was $14.99.

After Nanaimo, I headed north to Parksville to a church thrift store that I’ve had really good luck at before, and found a single bowl.  This was a fortuitous find, since a red version of the same bowl brought be such good luck on the last trip!  I stopped at two other stores in Parksville before heading to Coombs, and the antique stores there.  The power of the bowl held true, and I found four pieces, and two more pairs of cufflinks!


Thrift store action shot!


Alligator head fiercely guarding a Hotel Manitoba plate.  The hotel building still stands in Gastown.

In addition to the Hotel Manitoba plate, I also picked up a creamer in a stock pattern that was used on Union Steamship Company vessels as well as two side plates from the Western Canada Steamship Company (WCSC).  WCSC operated out of Vancouver, and used surplus ships that were purchased from the Canadian government after the Second World War.


Here is one of the WCSC plates.  The store owner didn’t know what line they were from, and I said that for a discount I would reveal all!  I was just joking, but she gave me $2 off each, along with small discounts on the other dishes.

After visiting another store that sold some vintage stuff and soap (I bought three bars), I headed to Qualicum Beach, where I struck out at both the thrift and antique stores.  I’m writing this in the Parksville McDonald’s and using their terrible Wifi before I head to my campsite at Brannan Lake!  Tomorrow I will go south of Nanaimo, and visit Ladysmith, Chemainus, and end in Duncan at the antique show!


My campsite at Brannen Lake in Nanaimo.


No tent for me!  This is why I wanted a station wagon.