Historic Teamster trucks could soon be homeless
Volunteers heartbroken as money woes threaten Vancouver-area museum
Alyn Edwards, Freelance
Published: Tuesday, December 28 2010
For more than a dozen years, the Joint Council of the Teamsters Union has funded a transportation museum housing some of its most historic trucks. The Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum & Archives displays approximately 20 trucks from 1913 and up and has been housed in a warehouse in the Vancouver area.
Memorabilia in surrounding showcases tells 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 of them are in this museum. Many of the trucks have been restored by retired Teamsters and other enthusiasts who have dedicated thousands of hours. Often, the trucks are rented out for films, appear at local historic vehicle shows, and the 1927 Hayes Anderson flat deck that was manufactured in Vancouver recently carried Santa Claus in a Christmas parade.
Sadly, the trucks and memorabilia may be homeless by year’s end. The society that operates the museum has run out of options. The rent is going up, and the B.C. government’s implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax has added seven per cent to it. There is no longer enough money to keep the warehouse.
The memorabilia is packed in boxes and the display cases are ready to move. Restoration work on the trucks has stopped. The volunteers who maintain the fleet of historic 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 said.
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-tonne tractor, had never been put to work.
King was an eccentric who once controlled trucking in and out of Vancouver with his nine companies and dozens of trucks. But in 1958, he locked his trucks in warehouses after a bitter pay dispute with the Teamsters. The millionaire trucking company owner retreated to his four-room house in Burnaby to live out his days. The warehouses filled with trucks weren’t reopened until 1973, when agents were hired to deal with King’s estate. They discovered other warehouses as well.
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 museum, auctioning many of the vehicles. The King trucks were saved because they had been donated and ultimately ended up in an unheated, damp warehouse under the care of the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Society. The Teamsters got involved when they asked curator 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 King truck collection to start the museum.
The amazing collection includes some real gems:
– British-built 1914 four-wheel drive that saw service in the First World War;
– 1924 Federal donated to the mu-seum by a 101-year-old man who had saved it from being junked;
– 1927 Hayes Anderson built in Vancouver;
– 1932 International A4 tractor that hauled steel to Vancouver-area shipyards during the Second World War;
– 1935 Dodge Airflow — the only one sold in Canada — used by Standard Oil to deliver fuel;
– 1937 Indiana;
– 1943 Maple Leaf tractor;
– 1946 Maple Leaf tractor purchased by King put away new;
– 1946 Fargo tractor. The Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives Society in Port Coquitlam hopes to preserve these and other trucks and memorabilia to commemorate the history of trucking.
“The last thing we want to do is to have to start selling off the trucks to try to keep the museum going,” says Teamsters joint council president Don McGill. “But we can’t put any more money into it, and we don’t have the answer at this time.”
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. firstname.lastname@example.org
Teamsters Truck collection finds a new home
The Surrey Heritage Society was looking for a home for this
important collection of 18 vintage trucks that were formerly in the
Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum in Port Coquitlam.
The City of Surrey agreed to lend the Society the old Surrey Museum building on the corner of 60 Avenue and 176 Street. The building is currently being upgraded and painted for the collection and the Society is working toward the museum being open to the public later this year.
Many of the vehicles were part of the former B.C. Transportation Museum until 1992 and then transferred to the Teamsters Freight TransportationMuseum and Archives Collection.
There are 18 trucks in the collection of which 14 are completely restored. Many of these vehicles are from the King collection, named after the original collector, whose wife donated them to B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett.
Link to website resource for this story>>
And the newest addition to our “fleet” . . . is a 1927 Fisher-Hayes Model “F” Flatdeck, which came to us from the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and
Archives Society. Recently, President Stan Hennessy – along with other members of Teamsters Joint Council No. 36 – negotiated with the City of Surrey to open a museum at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds to display most of our antique trucks and artifacts. Local 31 asked to keep this truck. It is a 4- cylinder Continental Engine, 255 cubic inches, 29 hp; 4 speed transmission, single-speed rear axle. The truck was originally purchased by Comet Delivery from Hayes Anderson in October, 1929. A.L. King worked the truck until 1935, after which it was put into storage until it was donated by Mr. King’s estate to the B.C. Transportation Museum, and then later the
Teamsters Museum. Be sure to look for this truck in future community events along with the tractor-trailer. (Photo: Terry Tyler)
A part of Teamster history moves on . . . The Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives Society recently donated its entire fleet and archives to the City of Surrey. The collection will now be housed on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. President Hennessy wishes to thank Museum President and Curator, Norm Lynch for his many years of dedicated hard work in preserving and restoring this important part of Teamster history. Norm could not have done this alone, and we would be remiss in not mentioning some of the other Teamster retirees who gave many volunteer hours of assistance in restoring these beautiful vehicles: Doug Mattock, Bob Nairn, Paddy
O’Brien, Red Hales, Tom Cuthbertson, Quirin Walz, Dick Parton, Roy Walker, Rick Purdom, Lyle Kent, George Sargeant and Mac Robinson. Restoring these old trucks was a passion for these retired members. Some of these trucks were used in Hollywood movies and were part of parades in the Lower Mainland. Pictured above is a 1920s era Federal owned by Johnston Terminals, a former Teamster company that used to employ 1400
Dedicated to Teamster history: Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum & Archives Society Curator and President Norm Lynch with his crew of volunteers: (l-r) Patrick O’Brien, Tom Cuthbertson, Roy Walker, Doug Mattock, Bob Nairn and Norm Lynch. They are seen in this photograph after the complete restoration of the 1935 Chev Maple Leaf truck which the Museum acquired by donation from the Tyler Lindberg family of Waldo, B.C. Norm went to Waldo, B.C. to retrieve the truck which was in a forested
area, completely rusted through. It took Norm and the other Teamster volunteers two years to restore the truck to its current condition.
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http://blogtn.trucknews.com/Harry.jpgTeamsters Truck Museum to be Reborn in Merritt? and MVSA soldiers on
Posted by Harry Rudolfs at 01:21 PM
Teamsters and Freight Carriers Truck Museum in Port Coquitlam has fallen on tough times, but it may flourish again in Merritt, BC. I was in Vancouver last week and dropped in to see curator and director Norm Lynch as he was manning the phones in the front office of the museum’s industrial unit in Port Coquitlam.
The collection has moved a couple of times since I first saw it eight years ago. In its present location, the magnificent trucks are more in storage than on display, but the spirit of volunteerism lives on. About half a dozen old timers are milling about the garage in coveralls involved in various tasks. A couple of guys are starting up a BC Telephone 1951 pick up that was recently donated. “Give it lots of gas and full choke,” Lynch hollers. Others are fabricating parts for the latest projects: a 1924 Federal and a 1929 International sitting in pieces on a drop deck.
Lynch tells me he’s known the end was coming for about a year now. “The Teamsters aren’t that interested in trucks these days. The guys are getting younger. Local 31 is even representing the Chilliwack school district now. Times have changed.”
Lynch who is 70 now, has shepherded the truck collection and archives since 1996, when then-president Garnet Zimmerman asked him to find a truck from 1936 to parade in the Local’s 60th anniversary celebrations. The following year the museum was granted its charter and the Aubrey King collection of trucks was added to its roster. Ironically, King was a shipping magnate who had a dispute with the Teamsters and locked up his trucks rather than bargain with the IBT. The Chevrolet Maple Leafs, all made in Oshawa, were retrieved years later from a padlocked warehouse and added to the Teamster Museum in mint condition.
According to Lynch, there has been a lot of interest in acquiring the collection since it became known the Teamsters were going to divest themselves of it. He speaks highly of a proposal from the city of Merritt to house and showcase the exhibits. It’s not a done deal yet, but talks are underway to move the trucks there.
It’s a wonderful collection from the oldest truck, a 1914 FWD, to Andy Craig’s restored 1936 Indiana, the first vehicle driven on the Coquihalla Highway by the trucking legend himself the day the highway first opened. I also love the 1935 Dodge Airflow that could stand up to any modern aero-truck in a wind tunnel test.
Norm Lynch and his group of steadfast volunteers are getting older and he’s looking forward to passing the torch. Lynch himself was a heavy haul float driver for Arrow before retiring. “There’s two other guys who volunteer here who were originally Teamsters and they’re 80 now.”
The visit left me thinking about the significance of the past and the need for keeping a historical record. I do hope Merritt, at the base of the Coquihalla, and a transportation centre in its own right, inherits this collection and does it up right.
Why is it important? Because it represents who we are and how we got here. Trucking is a culture that is rarely considered as such, but so important to the development of the country and our everyday lives. The Teamster and Freight Carriers Museum has to change and be reformatted to stay relevant. As do we all.
And speaking of organizations trying to stay relevant. I landed back in Toronto this week and went directly to the MVSA banquet in Mississauga. MVSA stands for Motor Vehicle Safety Association and has been around since 1947, but don’t bother to look it up on Google. It’s not there.
I know nothing about this body, except that my old friend David Logan, a legend himself, was a lifetime member, and I was invited to the function by Ken Hellawell, the fellow that taught me to double clutch so long ago, and a former columnist in Truck News. He’s also been forever involved and instrumental in running the Ontario Truck Rodeo Championships.
From what I gather, the organization is mostly volunteer, but it probably gets some money from Infrastructure Health and Safety Ontario to operate. They certainly were nice people, mostly representatives of some trucking-related goods and services, from insurance, to parts and accessories, to consultants, safety people, as well as folks from the truck and bus community.
Highlight of the night was the 2011 Safety Motor Transport Award given to Shawn Jameson Safety/Recruiting Manager for SGT of Brampton, Ont. Jameson made some heartfelt comments about the meaning of public safety and society-at-large. He was accompanied by his family and also received a diamond ring and $500.
But just like volunteer staff at the Teamsters Museum, and commercial drivers in general, I noticed this group is also getting long in the tooth. The MVSA has a good crop of retirees, and I’m not suggesting they turn anyone out to pasture, but they could really use a few faces under 50. Ken tells me the organization has been somewhat dormant and is looking to revitalize. In which case here are a few ideas.
Get a website presence. It’s absolutely crucial if you want people to know who you are and what you do. Otherwise MVSA is just another acronym like McMaster Vietnamese Student Association, which has a website. It’s unthinkable not to be online, especially if you’re looking to be relevant and appeal to a new generation.
Go looking for some good people to bolster your ranks (and inject some new ideas). I’ll bet dollars to donuts most people in the transportation community have never heard of MVSA, but might be interested if you were to reach out.
Mostly males, and no ethnics, makes an organization dull and less diverse than it could potentially be. I’m not quibbling that Caucasian males aren’t great safety people, but no women have won the fleet safety award since it began in 1947? Lots of great women in the industry now. As for ethnic diversity in this group—I didn’t see any. Not that I care much. I go to lots of all-white functions, but this group is not really representative of the transportation community as it exists today, ethnically at least.
Hello Harry, it seems to be the same sentiment north or south of the border. Apathy. We have a number of trucking museums down in the states that are closing because they have not gotten the suppot they need from the industry or drivers themselves. Our project ‘Dispatch Me Home’ will hopefully right the ship and get this great industry back on the road to respectability and pride. We are still looking for funds to complete our screenplay so that the movie ‘Dispatch Me Home'(feel good story about a gentleman trucker making his last run in the sun)can be produced. After that we still plan to move forward with our audio book series and eventually the construction of the ‘Trucker Hall of Fame’ museum.Keep up your great work notifying everyone of what is and what is not happening around them . My best to you Harry.
Posted by: Greg Martin | May 14, 2011 07:02 PM
Hi Greg: Good to hear from you. I was wondering how the script was coming. The concept is so direct and obvious, it’s a wonder no one has ever done this story before. I think Dispatch me home is a terrific site (www.dispatchmehome.com) that I highly recommend to our readers. It’s a compendium of American (and Canadian) trucking stuff, and it’s worth a visit if only for the pictures. That’s a terrific shot of the young Bill Weatherstone. Has anyone heard from him lately? I noticed his Diesel Gypsy website was working again for a few days last month.
All the best with your “Sam the Man” film project and keep the bugs off your bumper.
Posted by: Harry Rudolfs | May 16, 2011 02:52 PM
I think the museum needs to be a lot more active. I am new to the industry and have never heard of it before.
There are substantion players that could supporet it if approached. Every trucker would
consider support if the campaign were organized
Hodgson Heavy Duty is ready to help .
Posted by: John Bass | May 19, 2011 07:36 PM
Temporary new home found in Cloverdale for truck collection
A vintage truck that will be returning to Cloverdale.
By Jennifer Lang – Cloverdale Reporter
Published: April 18, 2012 7:00 AM
Proponents of a heritage transportation centre have found a temporary home for a collection of vintage vehicles they want to bring back to Cloverdale.
The City of Surrey has agreed to lend the Surrey Heritage Society a building on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds to house the new BC Heritage Transportation Centre.
A memorandum of understanding is being worked out permitting the society to use the old Surrey Museum building at 6050 176 Street (the northeast corner of 60 Avenue and 176 Street). The building was more recently home to the Cloverdale Seniors Centre until about a year ago.
The society is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of heritage assets. Members want to relocate the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives Collection from Port Coquitlam to Cloverdale.
Many of the vehicles were on view here as part of the former B.C. Transportation Museum until 1992.
Society director Bill Reid said Unitow has offered to deliver the trucks. There’s 18 in all – 14 are completely restored. Many of the vehicles are from the King collection, named after the original collector, whose wife donated them to B.C. premier W.A.C. Bennett.
A new door will have to be installed that’s large enough to accommodate the collection, which includes photos, license plates, tools, and other memorabilia from the archives.
Reid says the society hopes to broaden this initial collection in the future.
Treasurer Paul Orazietti said the society will be meeting with the Teamsters to discuss the next steps to transfer the collection.
The society is aiming to unofficially open the new centre by May 15, in time for the Cloverdale Rodeo Volunteers will man the centre, opening Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to the end of August.