Northwest Deuce Days: The Best Canadian Car Show You’ve Never Heard Of
For three days every three years, car enthusiasts from across Canada set up shop at Victoria’s Inner Harbour to celebrate classic and vintage automobiles.
My first dream car
When I turned 17, I finished high school and set my sights on going to university. For this I needed a car, and my father had a friend who had a car dealership. As a result, I commuted to classes in an old Austin A55, a car that promised to be reliable, though about as flashy as my auntie’s brown teapot. After a couple of years, and several well-paying summer jobs, I bought my dream car. Well, it was a student-on-a-budget’s dream car. It was a Volvo PV 544. I loved that car and quickly added a blue racing stripe and a specially tuned exhaust.
Later in life, I purchased a succession of cars, some quirky like the ancient Volkswagen minibus I tried, and failed, to drive over the Rockies. Some were practical like the grey station wagon I bought after the birth of our son.
From driving to photography
I still love cars but now I enjoy photographing them, talking to their owners or just admiring the flow of their lines or the colour of their paintwork. And living on Canada’s West Coast means that there are plenty of car shows, usually put on by a group of owners such as the British Car Owners Club, or the Ford Owners Club.
Discovering Northwest Deuce Days
Near where I live, each August, Oak Bay village hosts The Collector Car Festival, which celebrates vintage and collector cars of all makes and models. Oak Bay Avenue is transformed into a pedestrian walkway as 250 to 300 cars are showcased to admiring spectators and aficionados. This annual one-day event is a real crowd pleaser! But my favourite car show happens every few years when the Northwest Deuce Days is staged in the Inner Harbour of Victoria.
Inner Harbour classics
The website for Northwest Deuce Days states that “Since 2000, Northwest Deuce Days has been growing in popularity. The first event was held in Victoria’s Oak Bay village. In 2002, the event was moved to Chilliwack and grew in size with over 80 1932 Fords in attendance. In 2004, it moved back to Victoria’s Inner Harbour and featured 127 1932 Fords. Then, in 2007, again at Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the big show to commemorate the 75th anniversary of The Deuce (took place). This show would feature more than 400 1932 Fords of the 761 registered.”
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The star of the show
The local newspaper, the Times Colonist, reported on the 2016 gathering: “A number of manufacturers and model years will be represented, but the star of the show is the 1932 Ford Coupe. With 558 registered, this will be the largest gathering of Deuces anywhere in the world,” said Al Clark, event organizer. “It could have been higher, but I had to cut off registration February 25. We now have 48 cars on a waiting list as well.”
Every car has a story
I always scan the local newspaper for events of any kind where I can take photos, but car shows hold a special place in my heart. The cars are easy to photograph because they’re not moving and they’re always clean and polished to a high shine. Also, the owners are usually standing nearby and are happy to show off their “babies” and talk about them to anyone who is interested.
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Look, but don’t touch!
As a general rule, spectators shouldn’t touch the cars unless given permission by the owner. An accidental fingerprint smudge on the paintwork is most unwelcome. I usually ask before I take photos, because that simple question often will encourage owners to talk about their cars and even allow me to poke my head inside to get another shot from a different angle.
As much as I like to photograph shiny restored cars, I also look out for opportunities to take photos of derelict cars and trucks, mainly because I know there’s always a story behind every rusty spoke or cracked steering wheel. I often wander through Heritage Acres, a place on the Saanich Peninsula where old farm machinery and tools are stored, sometimes awaiting restoration. A number of ancient trucks, tractors and hay wagons are always on display and make for great photo opportunities. These are not your shined-up beauties that you might find in a car show. These are, or were, hard-working practical pieces of equipment that have passed into disuse. I’m sure at one time that they were every bit as loved as the “deuces” are today.
Northwest Deuce Days takes place every three years in Victoria. Make your reservations now because 2019 will likely see a repeat of earlier events that were sold out six months in advance. I plan on being there!