Stan Reynolds is a successful businessman and dedicated collector whose generous contributions to the province have helped to preserve Alberta’s aviation, transportation, industrial and agricultural heritage.
Stanley George Reynolds was born in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, in 1923. He inherited his love of collecting from his father, Ted Reynolds, a pilot and collector.
As a youth, Stan Reynolds worked in his father’s garage after school hours. In 1942, his desire to fly aircraft led him to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he hoped to become a pilot. After earning his wings, he was stationed in Great Britain as part of a night-fighter squadron.
In 1945, Mr. Reynolds was discharged from the air force and returned to Wetaskiwin, where he started his own business selling used cars. He built this business into one of the most successful automotive dealerships in Alberta and led the development of Wetaskiwin into a major automotive sales centre.
With a rapidly growing business, Stan Reynolds expanded his operations and began selling new and used cars, trucks, farm machinery, industrial equipment, house trailers and airplanes.
Recognizing the growing importance of air transportation, he built the Wetaskiwin Airport and operated the facility until he transferred it to the City and County of Wetaskiwin in 1969. The airport attracted a number of aviation companies that continue to operate in the city. Stan Reynolds also served the people of Wetaskiwin as an alderman from 1952 to 1960.
During the late 1940s, after his business had grown, Mr. Reynolds was able to pursue his interest in collecting antique cars. His first acquisition was a 1911 Overland touring car, which he accepted as a trade in and decided not to sell. Becoming concerned that Alberta was losing a vital part of its heritage, Mr. Reynolds extended his collection to include tractors, steam engines and airplanes.
By 1955, he had acquired enough items to open the private Reynolds Museum to display some of the extraordinary items he had collected. Stan Reynolds knew that his collection represented an important part of Alberta’s social history as well as the technological evolution of the machines that helped develop the province. Rather than remain in his own private museum, he felt the collection should be permanently displayed in a public museum where it could better educate and entertain the people of Alberta.
In 1981, Mr. Reynolds made a substantial donation to the province that included 850 important artifacts. This generous gift was the foundation for a new public facility operated by the Government of Alberta that opened in 1992. It was named the Reynolds-Alberta Museum to recognize the Reynolds family.
Mr. Reynolds has given additional gifts to the museum over the years and in 1999 made a second major donation of 60 historic aircraft, the largest and most significant collection in Canada outside of the National Aviation Museum.
Mr. Reynolds has received many honours, including a Heritage Canada Foundation Community Service Award in 1980 for heritage preservation and a Reilly Award from the Alberta Aviation Council in 1987 for his remarkable contributions to aviation in the province. The Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year in 1986 and in 1999 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Executive Director, The Alberta Order of Excellence