As dusk sinks it’s teeth into the sky and street lights flicker to life, I felt very out of place. In a stripped out drift car, with one seat and a hornets nest buzzing under the hood. Creeping down a mid town neighborhood; with aged trees, cut lawns, and within ear shot of a hillside Victorian courthouse. It didn’t look like a place where the roar of air cooled cylinders tearing into the ambient air was common place and the sounds of 1970’s punk never stopped. Hell, I’m pretty sure it isn’t, I don’t see a mythical workshop, no barking rottweilers restricted behind barbwire fences, or dive bars and broken lead-sleds adding to the ambiance, just houses with new siding and vanilla vehicles, Hell I don’t even see any decent sized garages.
So I double check the address and make a phone call to get directions to the real place. The directions, impossibly, are correct. I must have been lied to, this house doesn’t even have a garage. I humor myself, pull on the hydraulic e-brake, turn off the master power, unbuckle my harness and take off the steering wheel to slip out of my sanctuary of burning tires. “this shit better be worth it”
As I circle around to the average back yard everything still looks normal and my disappointment sets in, no garage just a house, cut grass and 20ftx10ft storage shed. A friendly face excitedly welcomes me, I cross into the yard towards the sided shack. Within 3 steps I was teleported into another world. I stepped into the junkyard, the museum, the dive bar, the pool hall, the underground concert…the workshop.
The smell of accelerants, aged wood, tools and that distinct scent of “grandpa” mixed with the dry heat of a fire was just right. Once the door closed I wasn’t in a city neighborhood I was in a cozy cabin on a farmyard …I was somewhere special. It was overwhelming the amount of things to observe and look at, everything has history, a story, and prestige, every corner is stuffed with amazing finds and vintage atmosphere.
But this wasn’t some untouched room from the past, this was a living, breathing factory, nothing was setup or on display it is just the result of good taste, ingenuity and adventure. Things don’t stay the same, nothing in life does, the harder we try to stop the change, the less personalty and warmth is left. The racing helmet from 40 years ago will be worn, the engine from a farmers field will be fired, the hand stitched canoe will be portaged, and the 60 year old bikes wheelied down the street. Things are rebuilt, reused,recycled, every moment and experience adding to the history and story of the material.
Restored, perfect and on display are all fine and those objects have their place. People try desperately to stop time, match all the numbers and never see one blemish in the paint of a vehicle from yesteryear. That is not what this place is about. I feel removed and belittled at a museum, here I feel my imagination can run wild, and it does, you feel the quality of a archaic production techniques and the aroma of its past. A race car is a very different object before the race than its form after. That post-use appearance and imputed information is what build the presence, attraction and prestige.
Modification and personality bleed into every object in this place. Not adhering to the rules, standards or any outside thought. Just friends finding and using what is around to make what we want, whether it is cool to anyone else or not. The materials are unique and sometimes rare, but almost always rescued after being given up on, being discovered from a garage sale, junkyard, dump or traded for a case of beer around a fireplace.
Imagination is fueled by buddies, inspiration comes from the stories and experiences shared and all of the energy creates innovation along with some bad ass solutions. Some things downright don’t work, but some things do. Fun is always had along with way too many beers, maybe the beer is the reason for the bad ideas, but I think group excitement is what I will officially blame it on.
Sean McAuley is the heart of this Saskatchewan gem. A eccentric, resourceful and passionate individual, always down for a good time, to share his treasures and talk about the past, present, or future. Then lay down some rubber and blast off, not sure if the air cooled death machines are the focus or if it is the friendship, either way never judge a shed by its siding.