Step through the creaking front door of the Highway Antique Barn in Chemainus and you’re met by the security team—Joey and Angel, dogs about the size of a basketball player’s shoes and by all accounts harmless.
Once your attention rises from these cuties (after a few scritches), the amount of stuff in this retrofitted barn becomes apparent. A full iron man suit stares from a second-level perch beside the bleached bones of some horned ruminant. Dolls. Rows of porcelain-headed dolls assess you from wooden shelves. Dozens of airplane models hang on strings from the ceiling.
Customers shuffle through the tightly packed passageways. Mid-morning, and the air is abuzz with the din of conversation while Kevin Smith welcomes customers in with a kind smile.
The owner of the Antique Barn is always on the lookout for interesting artifacts. His most recent purchase? A military jet. Maybe you’ve seen the air-force grey two-seat aircraft along the Island Highway.
“It’s called a CT 133 Silver Star,” says Smith. “CT stands for Canadian Trainer.”
The Lockheed designed aircraft has distinctive fuel tanks on the wingtips and was in service from the 1950s to 2005, an impressive service life. Canadair, a Canadian aircraft manufacturer, built 656 of them.
Smith’s jet was used to tow target aircrafts that other jets would shoot out of the air. The Silver Star sported bright orange paint on the wingtip fuel tanks so pilots wouldn’t inadvertently shoot the wrong plane.
Few of these planes still exist in Canada, and Smith was lucky enough to buy it from a dealer in Comox for $25,000. He plans to completely restore the plane and add a bright paint job to grab people’s attention. But folks are already pulling over to take a closer look says Smith. “We’re getting a lot of guys that are coming in and saying, ‘hey, I flew this back in ‘73.’”
However, he’s not attached to the fighter jet and says, “everything is for sale.”