Gary Wilson (right) joined by his wife, Raini, at the Peachland Museum in reconnecting with a vintage collector’s item meant to go on his 1953 Chevrolet Pickup. (Photo courtesy of Gary Wilson)

Gary Wilson (right) joined by his wife, Raini, at the Peachland Museum in reconnecting with a vintage collector’s item meant to go on his 1953 Chevrolet Pickup. (Photo courtesy of Gary Wilson)

Peachland man reconnects with vintage collector’s item after thinking it was stolen

The curator of the Peachland Museum found a plaque on side of the road when travelling on Highway 97

It seemed like a perfect day for Peachland resident Gary Wilson to take a drive to Penticton on August 19, 2021 — then the unthinkable happened.

In his beloved 1953 Chevrolet Pickup, Wilson couldn’t be more excited to visit the South Okanagan and celebrate his friend’s birthday but the party ended prematurely once he realized his Valley Saints collectors plaque on his truck was missing.

There was no doubt in his mind it was stolen and that he would never see it again.

Six months later in February 2022, however, it reappeared thanks to the curator at the Peachland Museum.

Don Wilson, no relation to the aforementioned owner of the vintage truck, was riding on his electric bike travelling from Penticton to Peachland later that summer when he noticed an unusual item in a ditch on Highway 97. His mission from that point on was to take the plaque back to his museum and search for the rightful owner.

“I was riding along in my scooter and I saw it laying there for about two weeks, so I finally said ‘I better go see what this is’,” the curator recalled.

“I didn’t know what to do with it, so I got a hold of one of the local car club people and they found the person who lost it.”

It wasn’t just any other collector’s item to the owner, though — it was a gift given to him by a friend, John Macewko, in 2012, who would pass away because of ALS Disease four years later.

Gary Wilson’s 1953 Chevrolet Pickup. The vehicle was purchased in 2005 by the owner. (Photo courtesy of Gary Wilson)

Gary Wilson’s 1953 Chevrolet Pickup. The vehicle was purchased in 2005 by the owner. (Photo courtesy of Gary Wilson)

Wilson was in disbelief was he found out his plaque had been found.

“It has a lot of sentimental value to me,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe the luck that somebody found it. I’m just really grateful that the Hot Rod community went above and beyond and shared this all over the place so that I can have it again.”

The museum’s curator, along with local car lovers Gordon Anderson, Grant Topham and Fred Stephens, took to Facebook to hunt down the owner of the vintage item. All of the men were instrumental in making sure the plaque was put back into the hands of the rightful person, Wilson added.

South Okanagan Chapter member Shane Gunn was credited with finding information and locating the owner.

Wilson’s truck is a renowned piece of automotive history. Having the plaque to go along with it is just the icing on the cake, in the eyes of the owner.

The truck was bought in 2005 before Wilson spent five years building it himself.

And even though his late father told him never to fall in love with a car, he just can’t help himself when it comes to his 1953 Chevrolet Pickup.

“Every car has a story and an immense amount of history,” he said.

“Having this happen and then reconnecting with the item will be part of the vehicle’s history forever.”

Gary Wilson reacts to finding out his vintage plaque has been found in Peachland, B.C. (Facebook)

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@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com

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