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Island antique shop even has a fighter jet for sale

If you’ve driven by Chemainus lately, you might have noticed a new addition by the roadside: a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star jet.
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A CT-133 Silver Star is set up at the Highway Antique Barn near Chemainus. KEVIN SMITH A CT-133 Silver Star is set up at the Highway Antique Barn near Chemainus. KEVIN SMITH

In the market for a Canadian Air Force jet? Never used in combat, flown only for training purposes.

Kevin Smith, owner of the Highway Antique Barn on the Trans-Canada Highway near Chemainus, has a deal for you.

“Everything is for sale,” Smith said from his shop on Monday.

The Canadair CT-133 Silver Star has been mounted outside the popular shop and an observation deck expanded so that curious onlookers can get a closer view of the aircraft.

Smith, who recently acquired the store — a 5,500-square-foot antique mall with about 60 vendors — said he bought the jet as a way to draw in shoppers.

“I was looking at my advertising budget and nothing was working,” he said. “So I bought a plane and just put it out there.

“Suddenly, I’m seeing buses turning around and coming in for a look.”

But, he said, for $60,000 anyone can take it away — “as long as it stays in Canada.”

The Silver Star is the Canadian licence-built version of the Lockheed T-33 jet trainer aircraft that was in service from the early 1950s to 2005, chiefly as a primary trainer for fighters and interceptors. It had a range of 2,250 kilometres, weighed about 3,800 kilograms and cruised at 760 kilometres an hour. Its appearance was distinctive because of the large fuel tanks usually carried on each wingtip.

Smith acquired the jet from a private collector on the Island. The collector got the plane from Vancouver Island University, which had been using it for aeronautical engineering studies, he said.

It was built in 1956 and used at Canadian Forces Base Comox and in Cold Lake by the 414 Squadron until the jet was decommissioned in 2002, he said.

Smith said if he hadn’t purchased the jet, it would have likely been sold into the U.S. “and parted out, because they still use them down there.”

He said the jet should stay in Canada, where it’s part of history.

Getting the jet to the site was no small task, requiring two 40-foot flat decks and tractor trailers and cranes to load and offload it.

The jet isn’t the first roadside attraction for the antiques business: The previous owners had a 20-foot-tall knight in armour that was prone to tipping over.

Smith has also recently acquired a 21-foot-long steel model of HMCS Rainbow. The Apollo Class cruiser was built for the Royal Navy in 1892 and transferred to Canada in 1910 when it arrived at CFB Esquimalt.

The model was used in recruiting new sailors, and travelled to different cities via rail.

The model had previously belonged to a private military museum in Ladysmith.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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