The Ottawa Valley Watch and Clock Collectors Club met for the first time in September 1975. The founding members represented a broad spectrum of interest in the field of horology. There were the collectors - people with collections of watches and clocks and watchmaker tools. Some had just one item, others had over a hundred. Then there were the handymen – people who could take an old lump of wheels and plates and pins and bolts and bring to life a functioning timepiece. And finally, there were the researchers / writers – knowledgeable people who wanted to contribute to the hobby through research and documentation - teaching repair techniques, the history of Canadian Clock and Watch makers and much more.
Regardless, all members brought one thing in common - their enthusiasm for old timepieces. The club thrived and in January 1979, the members voted to apply to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) for Chapter status. In February of that same year, the club became the third Canadian Chapter of the NAWCC known simply as the Ottawa Valley Chapter #111.
From Day 1, the club has had an enthusiastic, active and well-informed membership. Meetings provided still provide a forum for communication – members meet five times per year and share ideas, information, and repair techniques. Since the earliest days, the meetings have included time for socializing; a mart where members can buy and sell watches, clocks, tools, parts and horological books; and business and educational components. Education takes the form of presentations where the topics run the gamut from show and tell, to repair techniques, through to varying aspects of the history of horology.
Over the years, the club has added a number of social activities that have proven very successful. There is an Annual Wine and Cheese party held in the fall at a member’s home where his or her collection is the highlight of the evening. In the summer we have traditionally held a family picnic where an auction is a much-anticipated event.
Many people from our chapter have contributed to the club and to the topic of horology over the past 40 years. While it is impossible to name them all, the contributions of several stand out:
• Five members have been elected “Fellows” of the NAWCC, including the late Jane Varkaris, the late Dick Withington ,the late Bill Graham and current long time members Allan Symons and Gary Fox.
• Founding member, Jane Varkaris served on the Board of Directors of the NAWCC.
• Four members have published books on horology - the late John Plewes published a valuable book on clock repair; Jane Varkaris published several extensively researched and excellent books on Canada's place in horology, Gary Fox has published two books on schools for watchmakers – each school having had an important part in horological history; and, Maynard Dokken who has published three books, two on Westclox timepieces and the third on Canadian clockmakers.
• Four members have kept our chapter Newsletter (the Bytown Times) alive and well since the very beginning. The late Peter Bomford started the newsletter and, after years of serving as the editor, retired and passed the reins to Ben Roberts. Ben took the newsletter to the next level, both expanding the newsletter and using computer generated originals to create a much crisper and more readable issue. Erin Fox added colour to the newsletter and made the product much newsier before passing the reins to her father Gary Fox, the current editor.
• Long time member Allan Symons opened the beautiful Canadian Clock Museum in Deep River, Ontario and is a constant supporter of the Association with informative talks and articles about Canadian and Canadiana clocks and watches and their makers. Many others have contributed their time in preparing for and making presentations to our chapter and to other chapters and clubs. We thank them all and we look forward to new members for the contribution that each brings