Historic trucks soon to be homeless
BY ALYN EDWARDS, VANCOUVER SUN DECEMBER 6, 2010
Historic trucks soon to be homeless
The Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives displays approximately 20 trucks from 1913 and newer.
Photograph by: Alyn Edwards , For Vancouver Sun
British Columbia’s historic trucks may be homeless by year’s end. For more than a dozen years, the Joint Council of the Teamsters Union has funded the transportation museum housing them. The Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum & Archives displaying approximately 20 trucks from 1913 and up have called a warehouse on Kingsway in Port Coquitlam home. Memorabilia in showcases tell the story of how drivers in primitive trucks carried freight east and north over roads that wouldn’t be considered passable today.
Trucks named Hayes Anderson, Federal and Indiana haven’t been manufactured for decades but some of the best examples are in this museum.
Many have been restored by retired Teamsters and other enthusiasts who have dedicated thousands of hours. Trucks are rented out for films, appear at local historical vehicle shows, and the 1927 Hayes Anderson flat deck that was manufactured in Vancouver carried Santa Claus in Burnaby’s Christmas Parade last Saturday.
Sadly, the society that operates the museum has run out of options. The rent that had been partly paid with a tax receipt is now going up and the landlord wants full cash payment. The provincial government’s implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax that added seven per cent to the rent was the tipping point. There is no longer enough money to continue occupying the warehouse.
The memorabilia is packed in boxes and the display cases are ready to move. Restoration work on the trucks has stopped because their future is uncertain. The volunteers who run the museum and maintain the fleet of historical vehicles are despondent.
“We were supposed to be out of the warehouse by Oct. 31 but we were able to get an extension to the end of the year,” society president and museum curator Norm Lynch says. “These vehicles will be homeless and people should care about this because it’s our transportation history.”
Lynch drove tractors with low-bed trailers, hauling heavy equipment all over Western Canada and Alaska for Arrow Transport before a stroke ended his professional driving career.
He has volunteered his time since the museum opened.
The trucks had been acquired by the provincial government 35 years ago after warehouses owned by the late Aubrey ‘Bob’ King were opened up to reveal dozens of dust-covered trucks that had been stored for years. One of the trucks, a 1946 General Motors Maple Leaf three-ton tractor, had never been put to work.
Bob King was an eccentric who once controlled trucking in and out of Vancouver with nine companies and dozens of trucks. But in 1958, he locked his trucks in warehouses after a bitter pay dispute with the Teamsters Union. The millionaire trucking company owner retreated to his four-room house in Burnaby to live out his days. He never reopened the warehouses filled with trucks.
The first time I saw these trucks was when I was a young BCTV (Global) reporter in the early 1970s and two side-by-side downtown warehouses on Pender at Carroll Street were opened to reveal the dusty trucks. I had never seen anything like that before.
I had read a newspaper story with a photo of a reporter trying to look through a dirty window in the warehouse that was supposed to be filled with old trucks. The story specifically mentioned a Central Cartage warehouse on Main at Terminal where McDonalds is today.
I began watching the warehouse for any activity. One day in the summer of 1973, I saw that the doors were open as I drove by. I met Gil Cornish and Lloyd Barrett, who had been hired by Bob King’s widow to deal with his estate. They told me about the other warehouses. When the story appeared on BCTV, the provincial government got involved and negotiated to acquire the trucks for a new B.C. Transportation Museum. The trucks would be preserved for everyone to see. But 20 years ago, the government broke up the transportation museum with many of the vehicles auctioned off. The King trucks were saved because they had been donated.
They ultimately ended up in an unheated damp warehouse under the care of the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Society. The Teamsters got involved when they asked Norm Lynch to find a 1936 era pickup to commemorate their 60th anniversary. When they couldn’t find a suitable truck to buy, they acquired the truck collection to start the museum.
The amazing collection includes the following trucks:
– British built 1914 Four Wheel Drive which originally saw service in WWI and was brought to Canada by the BC Electric Company to haul coal and plow street car tracks in Vancouver
– 1924 Federal donated to the museum by a 101-year-old man who had saved it from being junked
– 1927 Hayes Anderson built on 2nd Avenue in Vancouver that hauled freight between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
– 1929 White tractor that hauled fuel for Shell Oil before being purchased by Bob King in 1939
– 1932 International A4 tractor that saw service hauling steel to Vancouver-area shipyards during WWII
– 1935 Dodge Airflow -the only one sold in Canada -used by Standard Oil to deliver fuel to Chevron gas stations into the 1940s when it was acquired by Bob King
– 1937 Indiana purchased new by the late Andy Craig who operated Inland Motor Freight hauling between Vancouver and Penticton. He produced the book: History of Trucking in BC Since 1900.
– 1943 Maple Leaf tractor economically built during WWII with no chrome work, a wooden steering wheel, canvas covered seat and only one windshield wiper
– 1946 Maple Leaf tractor purchased by Bob King from Collier Motors on Georgia Street and put away new in his warehouse where it remained until being acquired by the provincial government
– 1946 Fargo tractor that hauled freight between Vancouver and Seattle for Sea-Van Freight until 1953
– The Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives Society at 1580 Kingsway in Port Coquitlam hopes to preserve these and other trucks and memorabilia to commemorate the history of trucking in B.C.
Sadly, the society members, the trucks and memorabilia have nowhere to go when they are forced to vacate the warehouse by Dec. 31.
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouverbased public relations company.
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