|Al Mason, Mike Green and Allan Dodd with some of their collectible beer items at the 33rd annual convention of the Collectors of Canadian Brewery Advertising, held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. MARLENE BERGSMA/QMI Agency
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Think you might want to be a beer can collector? Start drinking your cold ones upside down.
About 75 collectors of beer and brewery memorabilia from across Canada gathered in Niagara this weekend for the 33rd annual convention of the Collectors of Canadian Brewery Advertising.
Beer can collector Peter Lindsay said it wasn’t until he knocked back a 12-pack of collectible cans on a road trip to a U.S. college football game in East Lansing, Mich., nearly 40 years ago that he learned you can preserve the pristine appearance of a beer can simply by punching a couple of holes in the base and pouring or drinking from the bottom.
Now with a collection of 10,000 cans filling the entire basement of his Beaverton, Ont., home, Lindsay has added business cards and sports team schedules to his collecting passion. He travels to conventions, such as the one held in Niagara, with catalogues and binders listing what he has and what he needs.
He also collects visits to ball parks and breweries, and recently dropped in to 60 breweries and 20 ball parks on a 23-day road trip to Victoria, B.C.
Beer cap -- or “crown” -- collector Mary Walker, of Ottawa, travels to conventions only with what she’s willing to trade, which number in the thousands and fill an entire table layer. The crowns are neatly laid out on cardboard cut from beer cases and stacked in boxes or shrink-wrapped in sets.
Walker is a fountain of information about their date, manufacture, rarity and collectibility.
She doesn’t even drink beer -- her husband, Bob, helps with that -- but started collecting more than 30 years ago when her four-year-old son started picking up beer caps discarded at a campground.
Her only explanation for keeping it up?
“When he was around 8 or 9, he gave up his collection and I just carried on,” she said.
Now, she has more than 60,000 crowns in her collection, “but I haven’t counted lately.”
Most of the collectors won’t reveal what their collections are worth, for fear of break-ins.
“We try not to mention dollar figures,” Lindsay said.
The four-day convention held at Niagara College drew collectors from Alberta to New Brunswick (and some American states) and included a buy, sell and trade exhibition Saturday, a tour of Niagara College’s teaching brewery and visits to local brew pubs.
More than allowing the visitors to add to their collections or pay for more collectibles by selling doubles, the convention was about friendship.
“It’s the camaraderie that makes it worthwhile,” Lindsay said. “I’ve done this for a long time, and you meet a lot of nice people at these shows.”