History of the Austin-Healey Owners Association of British Columbia
From the Original History by Jim Morrison
The Austin Healey Owners Association of British Columbia (AHOABC) had it’s start back in 1975 with the placement of an ad in a Vancouver newspaper. The ad simply stated, “Austin Healey owner’s - parts problems”. The respondents to this ad met in Rick Regan’s (still a current member) apartment on Dec. 4th, 1975. This was the first unofficial meeting of the AHOABC.
More ads were placed in 1975 resulting in larger turnouts. An executive was elected, and a yearlong process of frustration and bureaucracy followed culminating in the club finally being registered as a society under the Societies Act of British Columbia.
The first official outing was held on the Victoria Day weekend of 1975 with 8 Austin-Healeys attending the Knox Mountain Hillclimb in the Okanogan.
A long-standing close relationship was started with other Austin Healey clubs on the West Coast of the U.S. This relationship has flourished and is very strong to this day resulting in many cross border tours and events.
In 1975 a contest was held within the club resulting in the name “Wings” for the clubs official newsletter.
A Vancouver Island Chapter of the AHOABC was formed in 1977.
In 1978 the Club Logo, designed by Dan Doucette, was officially established and remains to this day. It and contains both the Austin-Healey logo as well as the coat of arms of the province of British Columbia.
In this time period, the tradition of having the official club Christmas party and combining it with the Club Annual General Meeting was begun.
By now, club members were participating in many national as well as international events. As well, a great many local, provincial and U.S. tours were participated in. A large contingent of 28 AHOABC members attended the 1982 Snowmass International meet in Colorado with the club organizing and managing the Gymkhana. As a result of the excitement and participation of being involved in the organization of a large meet, the club executive voted to hold a North West Meet in B.C.in the coming years.
In 1985 it was decided that, as Vancouver was to be the site of the 1986 World Transposition of Transportation (Expo 86), it would be the appropriate year for the clubs first venture into organizing and hosting a large meet. This was a very large undertaking. Whistler, a ski resort, was chosen as the site of the event. Don Manning undertook the task of overseeing the organization and Jim Morrison began the production of a promotional video for the event. Neither of these tasks was small but planning forged ahead. This resulted in two years of intense planning and organization.
In 1986, “Whistler 86” was held. The event was successful beyond everyone’s expectations. Donald Healey was in attendance and participated as best as he could. A well, approximately 200 Austin Healeys made the trek. A club Austin Healey was on proud display at the British Pavilion at Expo replacing the Psychedelic Rolls Royce of John Lennon. In addition, on August 5th, 1986, 64 Healeys were displayed at Expo.
The remainder of that year and following year saw much tour and event activity for the club. The club put on the 3rd Annual West Coast Meet in Victoria which was a great success.
In 1989 the club pitched in and helped the Oregon club put on the West Coast meet by taking responsibility for and organizing the Concours judging, and the Funkhana.
In 1990 and again in 1991 the club organized and ran a Swap meet at the VanDusen ABFM donating all profits to the St Paul’s Hospital Foundation. 1991 also saw the club put on the 1991 North West Meet in Kelowna B.C.
In the years following, many events became rituals and cross border Tours and Meets became very frequent and anticipated events. A very strong bond had developed between the West Coast Clubs.
In 1996, the club hosted the West Coast Meet or Rendezvous, as it began to be called, at Silver Star Resort near Vernon B.C. Once again, the tradition of putting on outstanding meets was upheld.
2002 saw the club enter the electronic age with the introduction of it’s website. This allowed for the saving of a large financial outlay every month by the publishing of Wings on the website. This has continued to the present day. Most club communication is now done over the website or on line.
In 2006 the club hosted the International West Coast meet at Nelson B.C. With 100 cars and over 235 participants. It was an unqualified success. The weather was perfect, the scenary was unbeatable. and the town of Nelson offered a very different perspective into a bit different way of life.
Membership over the years began to decline from a peak of over 200 to about 60, no doubt due to the age of the cars as well as the owners. The largest meeting turnout was 50.
2008 was the clubs turn to put on the North West Meet. This weekend event was held at Harrison B.C. and surprisingly saw more participants than had been anticipated. A good time was held by all.
2012 was the year chosen for the club to host the international Rendezvous. Once again, the members rose to the challenge and a great meet was held at the Tigh Na Mara Resort on Vancouver Island.
2013 was a year spent in recovery mode from the maximum effort of putting on the 2012 Rendezvous, Other than several local tours and the North West Meet in Cle Elum Washington not a lot happened.
2014 was a much more interesting year. Under the leadership of an enthusiastic President, many events were scheduled and attended by the club. Enthusiasm ran high throughout the year. The year culminated in our putting on a great 2014 North West Meet in Penticton.
2015 Enthusiasm still reigned and 2015 was a good year. A great Rendezvous was held by the CAHC at Alderbrook on the Hood Canal and equally great NW meet at Eugene Oregon were the two big tours this year. Smaller events rounded out the season. BY now, meeting attendance had picked up and 15 - 20 members attend was common.
2016 At the Rendezvous the year before we committed to putting on the 2016 Rendezvous. The decision to host this meet was brought about by the fact that no one else was going to and the Pacific North West Clubs stood a good chance of not having a Rendezvous in 2016. At an all club meeting it was decided to have a "Rendezvous Lite" and to tone done the event. We were in a fortunate position that we were able to use the facilities of the Penticton Ramada hotel. We already had a good working relation with them and were familiar with their catering and other facilities by virtue of having done our NW Meet there just 2 years previous. A committee was quickly formed and proceeded to organize an event that normally takes 2 years in 1. The event went without a hitch and was very well received.
2017 Was a busy year for the club. First major event of the year was the VanDusen ABFM, which was well attended as usual, then for a change from previous years, our après ABFM BBQ was held at the University Golf Course. It turned out to be an excellent venue with great food. The North West Meet was put on by Oregon on the banks of the Columbia River. We are getting spoiled - a lot of great events. Then the Vancouver Island Tour! THis was an extremely well attended event that went all the way up to Port McNeil where we took over a Motor Hotel and had a superb BBQ in gorgeous weather. Later in the year we hosted a get together with a large group of Aussies touring before attending Healey Week in California. Several members attended Healey Week in Monterey. A new comer to meets was the first (and we hope not last) Potlatch held in Kennewick Washington. There where also several smaller more local events rounding out a excellent year.
2018 and 2019 These were slow years with, other than the usual events, not a lot else going on. For 2020 we are looking at kicking up local and social events and making them more current.
2020 This year will be long remembered. With the Covid19 Pandemic things ground to a halt. No events involving clubs from South of the border were happening due to the closing of the border. Canadians could not travel into the U.S. nor Americans into Canada. Everyone has been concerned with staying healthy. There were some smaller group endeavours but all involved 'social distancing' and no large groups. Originally we have been looking at getting things going again in early 2021 but that looks like it is not going to happen.
Over the years, we have seen the passing of members and ex-members. While to be expected it is no less hard to accept. In actual fact we lost two club Vice Presidents in 2009 and 2010- Uwe Boecker and Bill Waters - two very difficult people to replace.
Club membership currently stands at around the 100 mark. It is interesting to note that several of the original club members are still active and participating club members.