100s of vintage phones, radios hit estate sale after drawing collectors from across Canada

An Alberta man's collection of hundreds of vintage phones and radios — which he exhibited for years in a private museum that drew collectors from as far away as Newfoundland — will be up for sale later this week in Palliser.

Bernard Payne of Calgary died in January leaving a massive collection up for grabs

Vintage phones, radios drew collectors from across Canada 2:13

An Alberta man's collection of hundreds of vintage phones and radios — which he exhibited for years in a private museum that drew collectors from as far away as Newfoundland — will be up for sale later this week in Palliser.

Dorothy MacKay-Holmberg's dad, Bernard Payne, did everything with gusto, including collecting radios and telephones from a time gone by.

Bernard Payne worked at AGT when he was 18. He was sent out to rural parts of Alberta to upgrade their phone systems and collected many in the process. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

"My father was a ham operator from a very young age and it started his interest. When he joined AGT [Alberta Government Telephones] when he was 18, he became very, very interested in radios and telephones and hopefully antique ones."

AGT was the telephone provider for most of the province from 1906 to 1991.

Two months ago, Payne died unexpectedly of a viral infection at the age of 88.

Two months ago, Bernard Payne died unexpectedly of a viral infection at the age of 88. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

"He died very suddenly, we were not expecting at all. We've been left dealing with all of this," MacKay-Holmberg told CBC News.

And by all of this, she means sorting and pricing literally hundreds of vintage collection items heavily focused on communications.

"When he became a foreman in Hanna, Alta., when I was about eight years old, he was sent out there to change from what they were using into a more modern set up. All of the farms were doing away with their big box telephones and dad started collecting," she said.

It took hours and hours with the help of some experts to price everything in the collection. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

Payne's collection grew exponentially when he retired.

"This was his retirement project. He had his own private museum. He would have collectors come and visit him. They would buy and sell or he would just hold on. Over the years he traded up and so he ended up with the best of the best," MacKay-Holmberg said.

"He even had the receiver that the Titanic let them know in Newfoundland that it was going down. A gentleman from Newfoundland drove out a couple of years ago and picked it up, because dad would never ship because he was afraid of things breaking."

Bernard Payne's collection used to include the phone used to call Newfoundland from the Titanic before it went down. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

That collection is part of an estate sale that starts Thursday.

MacKay-Holmberg says for her, it is about ensuring her dad's prized possessions go to a good home.

"He was fascinated with what was going on the world," she said.

"He wanted to know more, at a very early age of communication."

That collection is part of an estate sale that starts Thursday. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

With files from CBC's Julie Debeljak