I caught the collecting “bug” when I was 12 or so. It was 1980 and the hobby of collecting was gaining popularity. Every few Sundays, I would go to the Stittsville Flea Market just outside of town with a family from down the street. Their oldest son collected comic books and I started looking for something of my own to collect.
The turning point was when my dad mentioned that a man that he worked with had a son who collected beer cans and had a couple hundred of them. Wow! I gathered my courage to knock on the door and introduce myself and hopefully see the “collection”.
He was in his early-20s and had them neatly displayed on shelves, next to prog-rock posters in his sometime-bedroom. The cans were fairly current, but from all over the United States. Brands and places I had never heard of. From that moment on, I was hooked. In addition, the fact that an “adult” collected them, gave it some credibility from my adolescent point of view.
With limited funds and resources (the only flea market in town), I plotted other ways to get cans for my collection. It began with getting my dad to buy and drink foreign beers from the liquor store. He would usually buy a case of Molson Golden or Blue every once in a while, and now I had him trying Newcastle Brown Ale! Bet he didn’t see that one coming.
Around this time, beer-can collecting became commonplace on our family vacations. On the way to Washington, DC in 1982, I got dad to drive miles out of the way to find America’s oldest, active brewery, Yuengling, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. We found the building, but they had no tours or merchandise. It was just the brewery and it was 1982 after all.
Through some flea market finds and contributions by family and their friends, I began to amass a decent collection that rivaled the one of the fellow down the street.
That summer, I convinced my parents to correspond our bi-annual family visit in Southern Ontario with the Brewery Collectables Club of America (BCCA) “Canvention” in Buffalo, New York. I brought cans to trade and improved my collection substantially.
So that is where it all began. But like many collectors, I found it hard to stay specialized on beer cans. I will explain this further in my next post.