For the past few years, a little informal gathering in Ottawa has been picking up steam. Originally started on a whim by Dave Grant, it has snowballed into a pseudo plate meet. We’ve been picking a date sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, choosing a local restaurant, and showing up to eat and chat about plates with whomever is able to make it.
This year, nine plate geeks from the national capital region descended on a noisy Italian eatery, and by themselves, they would have broken the attendance record for this gathering. But two more made the trip from Guelph for the first time, and thus there were eleven of us, all gathered around a long table in the middle of the room, passing salad, digging into pasta, and swapping plates all the while.
The weather outside was cold, and snow began to fall, but all was warm at the table. Dave Grant gave Joe Sallmen and Rob Berman a lift, as Joe’s car broke down just after finishing the trip to Ottawa from West Virginia. John Hayes, who makes the trip from nearby Lanark County, suggested to Dave that he post a general invite on the Canadian plate collectors’ group on Facebook. Dave did so, and the result was that Mike and Alannah Franks decided to make the trip all the way from Guelph to join us. Filling the rest of the table were Mike DeVouge, Alan Bones, Brian Woodard, Eric Vettoretti, and myself.
Show-and-tell tends to be a popular pastime during dinner, and some of us even conduct trades in between bites of dinner. We don’t actually bring trade boxes, but we do stuff a few plates into knapsacks, so if ever the conversation drops into a lull (which it doesn’t), all it takes is for someone else to pull a different plate out. We had a glorious time talking about the new Waldale plates and their die variations, plate acquisitions from the past year, classic cars, memories of departed friends, and winter driving. New graphic Nunavut plates were a common show-and-tell theme this year, with three or four of those rarities being shown proudly at the table. Alan brought a beautiful Iceland plate with a seemingly low number. But the numbers are assigned randomly, not sequentially, so the sight of an Iceland plate with AAA was all the more impressive. I brought a YOM-issued 1957 Ontario motorcycle plate, complete with proof of registration from the Ministry of Transportation. Mike brought a batch of D-SAM vanity plates that were issued to our old departed friend, “Sam” Samis. Ever since Sam passed away, both Mike and I had been looking for one, but neither of us ever had luck until Mike discovered a batch of them for sale earlier in the month. They arrived at Mike’s house just in time, and he brought them to Ottawa. We split them, two each.
We stayed for three hours and practically closed the place down. Our waitress took pictures of the group. I was overjoyed that Mike and Alannah had made the trip from Guelph to be there, and I seemed to have some energy to spare, so I invited them and Brian back to the house for a little while to show a few plates, which I don’t get to do very often. I knew Brian was interested in seeing a certain early plate from my collection, and I figured Mike and Alannah would get a kick out of it, too. We sat in my rec room and gabbed about plates until about 1 in the morning… later than any of us intended, but it was a good time.
So, all told, I spent five hours with a group of plate collectors, and added to my collection. That’s the end result of my continual trips to Acton and Grimsby, so maybe our informal dinner has turned into a swap meet after all.