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The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 25, 2010 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Heated bidding at GVHS auction turns drizzle into sizzle

by Mark Burges

The didn't come storming out of the gate, but the 127 registered bidders at the Gatineau Valley Historical Society's 47th Annual Auction weathered the drizzle and came to life as the morning and auction progressed Aug. 21.

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Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS) volunteer Louise Schwartz shows off a birdcage at the annual GVHS auction Aug. 21. Mark Burgess Photo.

"They're just like race horses. We've gotta get 'em warmed up," auctioneer Revel Stewart said from his booth after the auction's first item, a spinning wheel, didn't garner the interest he felt it deserved.

But the hands hoisting the bidding cards were soon being raised feverishly as the GVHS volunteers displayed, raised and even modeled the items up for grabs.

"The man doesn't come with it," Stewart joked when the GVHS member Duncan Marshall sported a sombrero down an impromptu catwalk.

The auction - which also features a flea market, bake sale and silent auction - is the historical society's only fundraising event, with proceeds going toward maintaining and expanding the group's archives.

Carol Martin, the GVHS director of publications, said two of this year's big-ticket items were a canoe ($210) and a kayak ($200).

This was a first, even though "in Chelsea or Wakefield we often think we're very outdoorsy."

An antique ice box and a washstand also fetched more than $200 each. Items are donated with the previous owner receiving either 50 per cent of the sale price or a charitable donation receipt for the full amount.

The 30 items up for bid in the silent auction were donated by local merchants.

Although final figures aren't yet firm, Martin said this year's event grossed more than $8,000, with the GVHS retaining between $5,500 and $5,800.