The plane! The plane!
No, Chemainus hasn’t become a new place on the radar for Fantasy Island. Nor is it the home of an airport landing strip along the Trans Canada Highway outside the Antique Barn.
But there is a plane there, permanently stationed as an artifact or until Antique Barn owner Kevin Smith sells it.
Heads have been turning along the highway at Henry Road since Smith brought his recently-acquired CT-133 fighter jet to his business location about a month ago.
“One of my dealers said, ‘hey, I found a jet for you,’” he said. “It was in my mind it was mine already.
“It was purchased from a private collector in Comox. We’re going to start putting it back to its original silver and red colour.”
Smith also has a model of the plane hanging from the rafters inside the Antique Barn at 3088 Henry Rd. to use as a guide except the orange on the model will be red on the real thing.
Smith not only bought the plane at considerable expense, but it was also quite an undertaking and costly exercise to bring it to Chemainus. Two 40-foot semis were required to transport the plane by a towing company, with the plane detaching into four components.
“They said they got more honks than ever (on the highway),” Smith laughed.
He considers it a good investment, with the plane otherwise headed to the scrap heap.
“It was pretty much off to the States to be taken apart,” Smith said. “As soon as I came along, he (the owner) was happy to sell it to me and keep it in Canada. I consider it a piece of history. We’re preserving history for you. That’s what we’re all about at the Antique Barn.”
If someone else decides they absolutely must have it, Smith said he’d part with it for about $60,000, price negotiable. “Everything’s for sale,” he declared.
Smith added the plane was built in 1956 and decommissioned in 2002.
“It flew all over Canada,” he pointed out. “Never used in combat, only a trainer.”
The plane has become a tourist attraction in its short time at the Antique Barn, with people stopping by to take pictures alongside it. A stairway has been added for a closer look, but Smith said it’s not for people to climb onto the plane as some have attempted to do.
Never one to pass up a unique deal, Smith also has latched onto a model of the HMCS Rainbow, Canada’s first Pacific cruiser, from the Maritime Museum of B.C. in Victoria.
“It was saved twice from being scrapped,” said Smith.
He’s the third to save it after getting it from a private museum in Ladysmith.
“He wanted to make sure it went to a good home,” Smith noted. “It took 10 of us to lift it up. It’s very heavy.”
It’s now very prominently displayed inside the Antique Barn.
The original ship was built in England in 1895 and sold to Canada to become part of the navy fleet in 1910.
The model also has a price tag for the serious collector who wants to take it off Smith’s hands: $10,000.
The Antique Barn is also hosting community flea markets Sundays throughout July and August from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity for people who live in a strata who can’t have a garage sale or live in apartments,” Smith said. “It’s great for people who don’t want to do the work of a garage sale to sell stuff.”
Spaces can be reserved by calling 250-246-2372.