NORTH BAY — You would not think anything was unusual when you initially step into Tony Matheson’s home on Highway 11 North.
The signs that it is not your traditional home are really not visible until you enter the basement.
You see, Matheson is the owner of the largest full beer bottle collection in all of Canada.
The large entertainment room sports a big screen TV and a ping pong table.
However, all the walls surrounding the room are full of unique shelving created by Matheson.
Those unique malt-liquor shelves now literally display more than 4,300 full beer bottles.
The collection has even infringed on one son’s room, which now also has one full wall and a half of beer bottles.
The Major at 22 Wing at CFB North Bay has been putting this monstrous beer bottle collection together since the late 1970s.
“I started this in August of 1978 and I had just turned 18 and that was the drinking age here in Ontario back then and I decided I was going to collect full bottles and I have been doing it ever since,” stated Matheson.
“It started with two stubby bottles, a Labatt’s Blue and an Old Vienna on my dresser and it kind of grew from there.”
And the collection is huge.
Matheson estimates if you look at every bottle in his collection for just one second, it will take you an hour and 10 seconds to check out the entire collection, which does not include another 2,000 or more of doubles he has in storage.
If you took all the beer bottles and lined them up, he estimates the collection could circle a quarter mile track.
Bringing this collection together has not been easy for Matheson, considering his military career has taken him outside of Canada for almost half his career including stints in the U.S. in Texas, Alaska and Florida.
Despite moving the collection so many times, he says the casualties have been minimal.
He recalls one of the first accidents occurred when his young sons decided to play mini sticks in front of the beer collection. Their choice of a ball was not beer bottle friendly as they were using a marble.
“It was just like a bullet hole and went right through a bottle,” recalls Matheson about the incident at their former North Bay home on Tower Drive.
His two sons, Jordy and Johnny, still to this day will not say who the shooter was.
While it is a lot of work, it has really become a beer lover’s labour of love.
“I’m just at a point now that I have it inventoried, just got it inventoried last year,” said Matheson.
He hopes to one day take the collection to another level once he retires from the military in 2020.
“My kind of goal is to open up a Beer Museum in North Bay,” said Matheson.
“I collect everything to do with Canadian beer.”
While Matheson admits he loves his collection he does not consider himself a beer connoisseur, as he admits he will put it on a shelf even if the beer left a bad taste in his mouth one day.