Being the youngest child in a family of 5 kids, I can relate to working hard to try and keep up with older siblings. Jerry Kay was no stranger to this, growing up with 2 older brothers, and from what I have heard, he had a tough time some days. His brothers, being a few years older, got a bit of a headstart on Jerry into the streetrod culture as well, and by the time Jerry and his group of friends were ready to dive in, they realized that once again they were a bit behind. Jerry's older brothers were members of the Drifters, a Waterloo car club, and in order to get in your car had to be of a certain pedigree and built at a certain caliber. Jerry and his friends, being younger, didn't fit this bill, and made the decision to start their own car club, the Highwaymen.
They started in humble beginnings in 1961, the basement of their treasurer, Donny Hishion, with the first president being Jerry Kay. Jack Hyde took on the role of Vice Presient, and Ron Hinschberger acted as secretary.
Following the basement clubhouse, they moved Frederick St., Conestoga, Queen St., Centennial Dr., and in 1997 decided it was time to buy their own building, and found a church. The church in question was St. Paul's Lutheran Church on Lancaster St. in Kitchener. While the building no longer really resembles a church, it's still easy to see if you know that it was one. The arches of the previous windows are still visible, which have been replaced by more generic, and practical, windows.
Many changes were made to the building as the Highwaymen continued to pay of their mortgage and contributed to local charities. From adding several overhead doors, to paint, and a hoist, this became a sanctuary of sorts for the members. Recently, when I dropped in to see if anyone was there, I was surprised to see how active this club remains. This isn't just a building to the members, it's a workspace when you don't have one at home. It allows them to help each-other on their projects, whether it is a bit of wisdom, or a bit of muscle that is needed. While all I saw was a pretty straight forward group of working guys, I imagine some friendly banter keeps everyone in check as well, however I can't imagine how any work gets done with having a dog in the shop. Great idea, but I was struggling to stay focused!
The work area allows for members to bring in their own tools, but some larger equipment is provided by the club as a whole. This way of doing things can make the whole car building process a lot cheaper and a lot easier. Access to a brake, a band saw, a torch, and many other tools, make working here a no-brainer for many of the members, not to mention that each member with a car in the shop has access to a storage area for their parts as well!
After checking out what the guys were working on downstairs, I headed upstairs to the meeting room, kitchen, then all the way up to the mezzanine, where they have a pool table.
It's interesting to see that while the initial driving force behind the club has gone, and the club has changed members, the same vision and attitude still works today. As they continue there will have to be new members coming in, and I'm sure some of the current ones will move on to other things as their lives change. I hope I can drop in on this place 50 years from now, and see a group of guys younger than me working on cars and helping each other out in the same way!
What the Highwaymen have is very rare. They are a group of guys who own their own building, and work there together on their cars. It is a good example of what car clubs used to be, and it's very refreshing to see.
From it's humble beginnings of a basement, it's very encouraging to see that the car club is still alive and active after more than 50 years!