Photos

Wheatley, Ont. warehouse contains one of the largest kite collections in the world

George Paisiovich, the owner of the collection said he has somewhere between 3,000 to 4,000 kites from 36 different countries strung across the room.

'You don't see sad people flying kites ... In a word, it is joy'

George Paisiovich, examines a white cotton kite. Paisiovich says he has the largest white cotton kite collection in North America. (Meg Roberts/CBC )

Looking at the outside of a secluded storage warehouse located off of a dirt road in the middle of Wheatley, Ont., it would be impossible to guess one of the largest private kite collections in the entire world sits nestled in a back room.

George Paisiovich, the owner of the collection, said he has somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 kites from 36 different countries strung across the concrete walls.

"I started in 1978. I quit working in politics at the House of Commons, I walked into a clothing store downtown Toronto, saw all these kites and opened up a kite shop for the summer," said the 61-year-old London resident.

"I gave away a gazillion more than I ever sold."

George Paisiovich spends the majority of his time in his workshop repairing and building kites. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

But that did not stop Paisiovich from collecting some of the rarest and most unique kites the world has to offer.

His collection ranges from little stamp kites, to kites over 30 m long. The oldest kite dates back to the 1880's.

"What do I do with this? Well that is a question my wife constantly asks me," said Paisiovich, chuckling, although he quickly becomes serious as he thinks about his decades-old hobby.

"You don't see sad people flying kites. Its unpredictable, its natural, its low-cost, its colourful, its whimsical, its play," he said.

"In a word, it's joy."

George Paisiovich holds a kite made in Malaysia called the 'Malysian Wah'. This kite was bought from a collector in Quebec. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Unique kite collection

One of the more unique kites in his collection is a 'Rogers Walking Stick,' from the 1880's. As far as Paisiovich is aware there are only two in the world. The kite is scrunched up inside the walking stick and was used in the late 1800's as a hunting mechanism.

Paisiovich also owns a 'praying mantis' kite which cost upward of $8,000.

One of the most unique kites in Paisiovich's collection is the praying mantis kite. There is a wind turbine in the middle of the body which moves the arms as it flies. It was built over the course of a year in China by Master Chen Zhao Ji. These kites can cost up to $8,000. (Submitted by George Paisiovich)

Another "priceless" treasure for Paisiovich are wooden kite frames, used in experiments by Alexander Graham Bell. He said they were gifted to him by Bell's great, great grandson.

When asked what his favourite kite would be, Paisiovich said, "kites are like your kids, there is no favourite."

This is a picture of a post card from France in 1909. In the bottom right two boys are holding up kites in the shape of eagles. Paisiovich has obtained one of those century-old kites. (Submitted by George Paisiovich)

Attempt to preserve history

Paisiovich hopes to share his collection with as many people as possible through events like the Wheatley Windfest, which he organized this past weekend with a group of volunteers.

He wants to pass down the history he has collected as well as the feeling of joy. 

"You see families playing, not everyone with their darn head down and their computer screen and the rest of it."

"That's rare and magical and its something, if you can be part of, is very cool."

The 'Paul Garber Target Kite' was used in the second world war to practice shooting. (Meg Roberts/CBC)
George Paisiovich customized this German designed kite with small reflective rectangles on it so that it can fly at night. (Meg Roberts/CBC)
This is part of Paisiovich's old white cotton kite collection, which makes up the largest collection of its kind in North America. This picture was taken at a kite symposium at the Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. (Submitted by George Paisiovich)

About the Author

Meg Roberts

Meg Roberts is a video journalist with CBC Windsor. Email her at meg.roberts@cbc.ca.

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