Wheatley, Ont. warehouse contains one of the largest kite collections in the world
'You don't see sad people flying kites ... In a word, it is joy'
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."
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."
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.
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."
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."