A lifetime of collecting led Ray Tress to make the decision to open his own museum in Nicholson 20 years ago.
“It just started adding up. It is a little bit of everything. Everything has a story behind it,” he said.
Tress has been collecting for as long as he can remember.
“It is hard to say when I started because I always had things that I liked. It slowly added up from a few tables to this,” he said.
The museum started after his son put a deck on his house for a wedding. Tress then started putting his collection on tables on the deck.
“Pretty soon there were so many tables I figured I better put a roof over it,” he said.
“I never thought much about it until one day a couple of guys from Seattle dropped by and said this should be called Ray’s Museum. That is where the museum stuff started.”
One part of the collection has more than 100 meat grinders that mostly came from England and Europe.
“The story behind those is that I have been trying to find two alike and still haven’t paired two of them up,” he said.
Tress also has more than 90 chainsaws in his collection.
“I grew up with power saws. My first experience in the bush was before power saws were there. My dad bought one of the first power saws in the area.”
Tress has many antiques and collectables including a dancehall gramophone from the 1920s, Model T tools boxes, stagecoaches and Avon steins.
One special item in the museum is his grandparents’ truck, which was supposed to have been on the Titanic.
“They never got on. They would have been in the third class so they probably would not have made it. According to my grandmother they were right at the gate and it was closed right in front of her,” he said.
Many of the items in his collection came from auctions, garage sales and even picking up items while on vacations.
“Every time we went someplace we would bring something back. We always ended up at auctions or other places to buy. We always pulled in no matter where it was. Sometimes we had to go back for a second trip to get it all,” said Tress.
“Many people have a shocked reaction when the drop by the museum. They say, ‘Oh my God’ when they come in.”
Many people from Europe come through the establishment.
“The Dutch people are really into this…Denmark and Sweden people as well. They come in and spend hours looking through,” he said.
As for the future Tress said he has no plans to sell his collection anytime soon.
“It doesn’t really matter as long as it is old. I like my stuff and don’t want to get rid of it.”