Stan Reynolds-Collector Extraordinaire

 

The plaque from the official opening of the 
Reynolds-Alberta Museum on September 12th, 1992.
 
I have heard about Stan Reynolds as far back as I can remember, but I never knew him.  At the Reynolds-Alberta Museum's public tribute to him, I came to realize what a truly great man he was, a man truly worthy of the accolades he received.
Stanley George Reynolds had an understanding and a vision.  He understood that the present and the future are built on the past, that without the past, there is no future.  He had a vision for displaying for the public the things we used which showed the way we lived and worked in order that we may know and understand the past as the foundation upon which to build a solid future.  Even before he returned to his home town, Wetaskiwin, after flying in WWII, he was collecting.  After that time, he worked tirelessly at gathering the items which would tell future generations about the historic foundations of Alberta in terms of transportation, agriculture, industry and the military.
Stan Reynolds was also extremely well organized.  Every item he collected was accompanied by its story, carefully filed in his many file cabinets.  
In 1955, he opened his own Reynolds Museum, and in 1974 approached the Government of Alberta with the idea of developing a spectacular new museum.  From this one man's dream has grown the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, an internationally recognized Alberta treasure.  The donation Stan Reynolds made from his private collection to the provincially owned Reynolds-Alberta Museum is the largest and most valuable donation ever made in the history of Canada.  Not only did he make this huge donation of artifacts to the museum, but he also kept in very close touch with the development of the museum, making sure that every aspect of it was exactly right.  As time went on, he continued to attend every major event at the museum.  He had an active role on the Museum Advisory Board from 1992 to 2009 and also continued to donate artifacts.
Among the awards Stan Reynolds received were the Canadian History Foundation Award in 1980, the Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 1986, the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1999, the Order of Canada in 2000, and was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009.  He earned them all as business man, aviator, collector and philanthropist.
Stan Reynolds was especially concerned to collect things that showed how extensively they had been used and how they had been used, so there is the tractor with a wash basin hammered into a wheel to repair it, to show the ingenuity and determination of those early, poverty stricken pioneers.
Stanley George Reynolds passed away on February 9th, 2012 at the age of 88.  He will be missed, but his legacy lives on in the Reynolds-Alberta Museum which would not exist without him.
I am sure that we all have a favourite artifact in the Museum, something that reminds us of a special event or memory.  Mine is the unique Multi-Ped, the invention of Edward (Ward) Snell in the 1940s and early 1950s.  At that time there was great concern to develop something that could travel across muskeg without sinking.  Ward Snell thought that this might be accomplished by very large feet dropping down and lifting up as the wheel to which they were attached turned.  I remember when I was five or six years old, Mr. Snell lifted me up to have a ride on his very first model of it, a model put together from old boards, old waggon wheels, a small engine, and big wooden feet which had a much, much bigger foot print than where a wheel touches the ground.  It provided a very smooth ride on level ground.  This took place at their farmhouse on the quarter which Grandview now partially occupies.  By then, Snell's lumber mill was no longer operating at the present site of the Grandview Marina.  Later, I saw a much more sophisticated mini-model about two feet high which Snell was displaying at the midway of the Ponoka Stampede and other fairs.  I am so glad that Stan Reynolds collected even a one-of-a-kind oddity such as this, and that the museum keeps it on display.  
We all owe a great deal to Stan Reynolds and all that he did to preserve the vehicles, aircraft, agricultural equipment, and industrial machines during an era of great development and change so that we may know the foundation for our present and future.
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