John Schweigert arrived on Sumas Prairie nearly 80 years ago – 1937 to be exact.
A beautifully restored Model T convertible in one of his barns predates this by a decade.
In fact, wandering through the buildings on his farm is a walk through history, because John and wife Marion, also known as Granny and Grumpa, have what is considered the largest single collection of antiques in British Columbia.
And “large” doesn’t quite capture the incredibly vast collection of anything and everything under the sun. There is a room crammed with hundreds of dolls, and a pop bottle collection that must have one of every soft drink container ever made.
Walking with John through the barns becomes a series of questions: “Do you know what this is?” followed by a description of what the thing is. A 200-year-old device for making corn brooms, complete with broom and a couple of clumps of shredded corn stalks.
There is a dozen or more wonderfully restored farm tractors, including the first tractor owned by the Schweigert family. And sitting outside under its own canopy is a D-8 bulldozer used to build the Alaska Highway in 1942. It was restored to original condition, complete with military markings and paint, by a man in Oregon who a few years ago sold it to John. It is in complete working condition … “we started it up Sunday when a group of Shriners came to visit,” noted Grumpa.
So how, I asked, did you accumulate all this stuff? The answer was: “I don’t take vacations in Hawaii, I go to auction sales.”
He has been collecting for 25 years, and I’d hazard a guess he’s spent more on his acquisitions than it would take to buy a very nice house in Vancouver.
His collection however, is not just a museum of memorabilia. Almost everything is for sale. Some four years ago, he even had a visit from the reality TV show Canadian Pickers – “they bought about a thousand bucks worth of stuff.”
I must admit, I was tempted to buy something, but I don’t think the magnificent solid oak witness stand from the original New Westminster court house would fit within my budget. Nor do I need an early ’50s Peterbuilt fuel truck that was fully restored by the manufacturer.
I also thought I’d look pretty good behind a horse in one of his many democrat buggies, or in the little 1971 VW convertible with a stickshift but no clutch – I assume the forerunner of Volkswagen’s automatic transmission.
What I, or anyone else would do with the many player pianos and organs is anyone’s guess, or the dozens of antique phones.
The vastness of the collection is quite overwhelming. If you are in a buying mood, or just want to tour, expect to spend many hours going through the displays.
Be sure to check out the native Indian stone bowls and pestles, many of them found on John’s farmland which ties them to the local Sto:lo First Nations who have peopled the Sumas area for millennia.
In this age of minimalism, many of the antiques no longer appeal to the younger generation. However, for anyone who wants to go back in time, or perhaps pick up some lawn art, Granny and Grumpa’s Antiques is a must visit. You won’t be disappointed, and I guarantee you will be amazed at what is there.
Granny and Grumpa’s is listed as Number 1 on the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour and is located at 37936 Wells Line Road You can take Whatcom Road south of the freeway about 1.5 km to Nelles Road. At Birchwood Dairy (be sure to stop for ice cream) the road turns north then becomes Wells Line. G&G’s is about 5.5 km from the Whatcom overpass. You can also access it from the Cole Road exit, and on that route you will see the resurrection of hop growing (for craft breweries) that many decades ago was a staple crop on Sumas and Chilliwack Prairies.