Martin C. Barry
After introducing much of the rest of the country to the joys of collecting memorabilia issued by Canada’s most iconic retailer, members of the Canadian Tire Collectors Club chose Laval for their 17th annual national convention earlier this month.
Canadian Tire collectibles
Held on Aug. 17 at Collège Citoyen in Sainte-Rose, the all-day event brought together several dozen collectors who are fascinated with every kind of Canadian Tire memorabilia, including the company’s emblematic discount bank notes, as well as books and toys imprinted with the famous Canadian Tire logo.
Like-minded collectors of Canadian Tire items first formed the Canadian Tire Collectors Club in 1990. Since then, the value of CT collectibles has risen exponentially. A Canadian Tire die-cast truck was sold by one dealer at this year’s convention for $1,000.
All kinds of memorabilia
While the first collectors were interested primarily in bank notes, since then others have expanded with the collection of old CTC catalogues, limited edition die-cast cars and trucks, commemorative pins, colourful gift cards, tokens and limited edition coins.
However, the list goes on to include such odd items as patches, frisbees, hockey pucks and golf balls, all of which have become Canadian Tire specialty memorabilia among certain more advanced collectors.
A Canada-wide gathering
This year’s convention was organized by Jerome Fourre, a resident of Blainville on the North Shore, who’s been collecting CTC memorabilia since 1987. Last year’s CTCC convention took place in Edmundston, NB and the group’s gatherings have taken place in major cities virtually everywhere in the country.
Fourre had previously been a collector of Canadian government-issued coins. However, following a home robbery, during which the thieves made off with everything except his collection of Canadian Tire money, Fourre decided the most secure investment in collectibles he could make was Canadian Tire bank notes. He has stuck faithfully to that formula since then.
“At that time no one appreciated Canadian Tire money,” he said in an interview. Some examples of CTC bank notes in his collection that have become valuable are a $1 bill now valued at $600. Another note is worth $3,000. He estimates his $25,000 in face-value CTC notes are worth $500,000 based on their value to collectors. He figures his entire collection is worth around $1million.
Collectors of ubiquitous Canadian Tire bank notes grade it based on a value system identical to one used for establishing the collectors value of regular bank notes. The Canadian Bank Note Co., which prints all of Canada’s currency, has printed Canadian Tire money since 1972, prior to which it was printed by the British American Bank Note Co.
Paper notes still circulate
Although Canadian Tire Corp. announced the cancellation of its bank note program five years ago, according to Fourre the company never moved forward with the plan and CTC money continues to be issued and circulated to this day.
Among Fourre’s most valuable memorabilia is a 1927 CTC catalogue issued just a year after the company first started publishing them. He has more than 600 catalogues in his collection, as well as an assortment of Canadian Tire license plates. A special sub-category of his overall collection enshrines memorabilia issued to commemorate Canadian Tire’s 75th anniversary in 1996-97.
Why they chose Laval
Although the club might have chosen central Montreal to stage this year’s CTCC gathering, Fourre explained why they chose Laval. “We were looking around and we found the location of Laval is ideal,” he said, noting the city’s direct access to Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport along Autoroute 13. As well, he said Laval’s hotel accommodations are more reasonably priced than in Montreal.
Among the collectors from all over Canada who came to Laval for the Canadian Tire collectors Club’s 17th annual gathering was Conrad Lauzon, a former Canadian Tire store operator/owner who is now retired after 40 years of service.
Values his CTC service pins
“My first discount coupon, which I acquired in 1972, I still have in my possession,” he told The Laval News, while adding that it is not for sale. Lauzon’s most treasured collectibles are the service pins he received over the course of the four decades he spent affiliated with the corporation.
Lauzon had the great honour during his career of meeting several members of the Billes family, who founded and continue to take an active interest in the company. Canadian Tire was founded in Toronto in 1922 by brothers John William Billes and Alfred Jackson Billes. A.J. Billes’s daughter, Martha, owns a controlling share of the company’s common stocks to this day.