Ken Forde's Junkyard

Museum brings derelicts to life

Author, photographer Rick James offers presentation on Rust in Peace exhibit, featuring Vancouver Island junkyards

Next weekend, the Museum at Campbell River will Rust in Peace. But there will be no burial.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, the museum will host Rick James, curator of the Rust in Peace exhibit currently showing in the Museum’s Changing Gallery.

In the presentation, beginning at 1 p.m., James will talk about the exhibit, providing colourful and intriguing background stories behind the photos of Vancouver Island junkyards.

“Back before the environmental movement was in full swing and the auto crusher was sent out to remove old cars from the landscape, many an old 1920s and 1930s coach and sedan was left in the back corner of an Island junkyard to quietly rust away,” said James. “Although I did pick up the odd bit of rusty metal myself, I was more concerned with photographing the sites.”

In the 1970s, just before the vintage car collections disappeared for good, James spent time exploring the derelicts with his buddy and old car nut, Ken Gerberick. Gerberick was totally preoccupied with collecting interesting fenders, cowls, wheels and hood ornaments for his own old-car junkyard, an ongoing art project that he worked on for years.

The three junkyards featured in the Rust in Peace exhibit will be Lionel English’s Merville junkyard, ex-Campbell River mayor Ken Forde’s collection at Shelter Point and the unforgettable Gorosh pile that was a roadside icon next to the Old Highway near Nanaimo from the early 1940s to late 1970s.

James was born in Victoria and has lived on Vancouver Island most of his life. His writing and photography have been published in numerous periodicals including British Columbia Magazine, The Beaver: Canada’s History Magazine and The Sea Chest: Journal of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. But here, along our West Coast, he’s probably more widely recognized for his regular contributions to Western Mariner Magazine.

He is the author of two books: the Ghost Ships of Royston and Raincoast Chronicles 21: West Coast Wrecks & Other Maritime Tales. James is currently working on a book about rum running along the West Coast. The cost for the talk is $7.00.  Please phone the Museum at 287-3103 to reserve a seat. The exhibit runs until Apr. 20.