We just arrived back home from another trip to the west coast for some family business – that would be the second one in a month ! As usual, the trip out and in was great as the scenery just can’t be beat, and the drive over the Coquihalla highway and the mountain passes through Banff etc., are always a very easy on the eyes.
On this trip, I had promised myself a special treat and I was determined to re-visit the Trev Deeley Motorcycle Collection . For several years I have been recommending this as a ‘must see’ to friends having a motorcycle interest and who were planning a visit to Vancouver, as when I’d last been there it was without doubt the best motorcycle collection on display in Canada, and probably in the top 10 in North America (the best list of motorcycle museums and collections I’ve seen is available here) . The really amazing and delightful thing about it was that it was a private collection – other than welcoming a cash donation, they didn’t even charge admittance ! And even better – although Trev Deeley was a Harley-Davidson retailer and distributor, the collection he had put together covered all the major marques and featured many British machines from the golden years – Ariel, a Scott Squirrel, Vincent, lots of BSAs and Triumphs etc., as well as other American makes long gone from the market, Italian, German and European models, plus a number of bikes from Japan. The photo to the right shows it as it used to be, and with something like 250 motorcycles from over 50 manufacturers all in one place to be seen, it was an amazing sight. When I heard they had moved to a new location, I naturally had high expectations of the display being even better than before – however when we finally found the new place, I was at least glad they still don’t charge for admission.
Sadly, Trev Deeley passed away in 2002 and the owners of the business either were unable to continue to afford maintaining the old display (I’m sure the cost was significant), or perhaps did not share his vision, but in my own view, the new display location which opened in 2007 is a huge disappointment when compared to what was offered previously. I actually walked by the display entrance initially – it is now co-located inside a H-D store, and the first thing I actually saw when I entered was a collection of motorcycle jackets and boots, with new H-D bikes on display beyond. The new display collection is to the left of the store, up a couple of stairs and around a corner in a series of small low ceilinged rooms – a photo is to the left. Only a portion of the collection of 250+ machines can be displayed at a time, and although the few bikes now on display are restored or conserved to a superb level of condition, overall I just found that the whole thing felt very cramped. To make the best use of the limited space they now have, they feature just one marque, which is not surprisingly H-D. Happily, the few bikes on display are immaculate and often are quite rare examples, but it just isn’t the same as it used to be.
I was told that perhaps next year they will mount a British display, but obviously if you plan to visit you would be wise to call in advance to be sure there is something on display that you’re actually interested in seeing. Bottom line – sad to say, its no longer a ‘must see’, but if you have a rainy afternoon to fill and happen to be in Vancouver, then it could be a pleasant way to spend an hour.