Cave In

Sid van der Meer’s stories as dictated to his granddaughter Teresa.

The tree leaves are rapidly changing and the temperature is beginning to drop. Autumn is about to arrive in Beaver Creek, Yukon and the tourism season is nearly complete.

Like many residents of the small border town, Sid van der Meer is starting to prep his house and museum for cold weather.

Bordertown Garage & Museum will be shut down for the winter as Sid warms himself up, with his partner Jill, in hot and sunny Arizona. This snowbird is ready to head south!

The summer had brought visitors from around the world to Beaver Creek and most had the opportunity of experiencing Sid’s enormous antiques collection.

Many visitors anticipate Bordertown Garage & Museum as a typical carpeted, sterile, orderly museum with antiques behind glass. This is not the case. Sid wanted the museum to be organic, to be in its natural state as if it were the real thing.

Some visitors come back year after year to visit the museum. This year, the summer months also brought old friends who knew Sid when he owned Mountain View Lodge (Mile 1128), as well as when he lived in Warner, Alberta. “He hasn’t changed a bit, but I think his collection has gotten bigger,” says a close friend.

As a result of allowing the public to view his collection, Sid is able to make numerous antique trades with visitors. “I traded some old milk bottles and other antiques for it,” Sid says casually.

He draws my attention to a briefcase on the floor in front of us, with what appears to be a gas mask hanging out of it.

I ask him what it was, and he responds, “It’s a rescue kit for underground mining. It was used if there were cave-ins and people were in need of rescuing.”

The carrier case had instructions about how to use the device, as well as several diagrams on how to wear the mask. “It says on there that each canister of oxygen would only last for approximately 30 minutes.”

To both Sid and me, this doesn’t seem like a very long time to rescue someone from a caved-in mine. “It was a visitor that traded it for the milk bottles. I had lots and lots of the bottles to trade with. I traded it here in Beaver Creek,” Sid continues. “The rescue kit was probably from the 1920s. That’s the only rescue kit that I have of that type.”

Distracted by another object, Sid walks towards a black metal box sitting on top of a handmade stove and begins another story.

Bordertown Garage & Museum will be closed from October to April. Plan your trip up to Beaver Creek, Yukon and visit Sid next spring!

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