Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum Moving to Cloverdale, really this time

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Last year after I talked to curator Norm Lynch at the Teamsters Museum in Pt. Coquitlam I thought a deal was in the works to move the museum’s 21 trucks, displays, parts, trailers and archives to Merritt B.C. But to their loss, Merritt city council balked at spending money on the project, and now, for sure, the collection is going to Cloverdale, B.C. a suburb or Surrey, BC which in turn is not far from Vancouver.
This is a great location as Cloverdale is a rodeo capitol in it’s own right, with if I remember correctly the second biggest rodeo in Canada next to the Calgary Stampede. And as we all know trucks and rodeos are a natural match.
Seriously, this will be a terrific home as so many people will get to experience this collection and Surrey is itself a trucking hub. Teamsters are trying to get out of funding a museum as I guess it was costing them money to keep the trucks in quasi-storage. And Norm is relieved as he can start his retirement for real now.
I’d write more about this museum, but I just got in from Montreal and I”m tired. And I’ve already written and salivated over these trucks in print and blog previously Plus I’m going to Truck World in a few hours. So in brief , the museum was born in 1996 when Garnett Zimmerman of Teamsters local 31 charged Norm with finding a truck to celebrate the local’s 60th birthday. He did and it was a 1935 Chevy Maple Leaf. The collection grew from there and was lovingly cared for by retired teamsters and truck restoration enthusiast to this day.
After the deal went sour with Merritt, the Surrey Historical Society drew a bead on the collection and began the process of acquiring the vintage trucks and archives.
The exhibit will be temporarily located in the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, and the irony is that many of these vehicles lived in Cloverdale previously when they were part of the former BC Transportation Museum.
Lynch thinks the Surrey Historical Society, which is behind the acquisition will eventually build the museum a permanent home. For five years anyway, it will still be called the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum which is fitting as the Teamsters predate trucking in that province.
The historical society was hoping to have the trucks on display (many of them are in running condition) by May 15, but Norm doubts it can be done that quickly. I heard that a local towing company had agreed to transport the trucks at no cost, but I can’t find the name anywhere, would mention this donor if I could. See you at Truck World, stop by the Truck News booth!
Norm Lynch, president and curator of the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives pictured below
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Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.

With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude.

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  • I am hoping this message or the other email I sent gets received by someone who will contact me through email. We will be travelling through the Fraser Valley in a few days and I got reminded about the Teamsters Truck Museum. If our travel plans coordinate, I hope we might be able to come see the trucks in their new home or their transition spot to their new location. My husband and our 8 year old son are huge fans of trucks and BC history. So please send me some information even if our travel plans don’t work this time, maybe next time we’ll be able to see the trucks. Thank you for your time. from Lorna

  • Hi Lorna. The trucks from the museum in Coquitlam have been moved to the Cloverdale fair grounds where they will be housed. The museum isn’t ready for the public but some will be on display on Aug 4 during Cloverdale’s blueberry festival. I’m sure if you showed up at the fairgrounds someone might let you have a peak at them. It looks like it will no longer be called the Teamsters truck museum.
    Here’s an article about the truck museum
    It’s been a smooth move into a new home for the Surrey Heritage Society’s collection of vintage vehicles that will act as the foundation of a new transportation heritage centre in Cloverdale.
    The trucks and associated hardware were relocated one and two at a time from their former home at the Teamsters Freight Museum in Port Coquitlam.
    It took a month, says Paul Orazietti, society treasurer and true believer in the collective power of shared passions to create magic.
    The society had been working since last fall to acquire and relocate the collection.
    This May, the City of Surrey agreed to let the society use the former Surrey Museum building on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds as a temporary location, a decision that’s sparked the imagination of volunteers and supporters alike.
    The B.C. Transport Heritage Centre isn’t quite ready to greet its first visitors from the public, but – once the final touches on renovations are complete and occupancy permits are in place – that day isn’t far off.
    “A building comes back to life,” Orazietti said. “And, it’s all been done by volunteers.”
    So far, the newly-dubbed BC Transport Heritage Centre consists of 18 medium-sized freight vehicles. Fourteen are completely restored.
    The trucks range from a 1912 Shell tanker and a 1931 Maple Leaf flatbed to a 1977 BC Tel service truck (still sporting an authentic Harvest Gold paint job).
    They’re all squeezed into the former auditorium. It’s a snug fit.
    Orazietti said the Lark Group undertook the necessary renovations, which included removing some interior walls and closing in a mezzanine that will be used for storage.
    On a recent morning, two volunteers were fashioning a wooden frame for the mural that was saved from destruction as part of the renovations as well as completing other finishing touches.
    “I’ve been interested in old equipment all my life,” said Brian Busby, a retired truck driver and life-long Cloverdalian.
    Many of the vehicles are from the Bob King collection, a colourful trucking company owner whose wife eventually donated them to B.C. premier W.A.C. Bennett.
    Between 1987 and 1992, they were on view in Cloverdale as part of the former B.C. Transportation Museum. The return to Cloverdale of the King collection is a chance for retired school teacher Denis Corrin to reconnect with memories of an earlier time.
    When he was 15, he worked in the office of one of King’s trucking companies.
    “I rode a bike because I was too young to drive,” he recalled.
    “Later, I drove for some people who bought some of these old trucks,” he said, explaining how he drove trucks for nine years, including while he attended university.
    Over the years, he kept track of some of the old freight trucks – along with some driven by a friend.
    His favourite is the Canadian-built 1935 Maple Leaf, a robust, brick red number with a wooden flat deck, saucer-shaped headlights and stylish ovoid grill.
    Nostalgia, he admitted, plays a role, too.
    “This was the era that was on the farm and older,” he said. “They have character. You can identify one from another. Vehicles today,” he sighed, “They all look the same.”
    Busby and Corrin are just two of the volunteers who have stepped forward, eager to lend their time, expertise, and passion.
    Orazietti said as word has spread about the return of the trucks, more people have offered to get involved.
    “That’s where the magic comes from,” Orazietti said.
    “All of this gives people a reason to come together, to take care of part of our history.”
    The renovations have cost about $25,000, covered thanks to fundraising, work in kind, and private donations.
    Cobra Electric paid for the roll up door. Unitow and Partel Towing helped move the vehicles, he said.
    “There’s a real passion to take care of these vehicles and find a proper home for them.”
    The City of Surrey agreed to allow the Surrey Heritage Society to use the building – on the understanding that the society will look for a permanent home down the road.
    “Now we have a home for the heritage society, we can start to fundraise and do other projects,” Orazietti said. “It’s a base.”
    The society has had to close the garage door on new acquisitions for now. But already there have been serious offers from private collectors who would consider donating if there was a permanent display space.
    “That’s why this thing has enormous potential.”
    The society, which is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of heritage assets in the City of Surrey, also envisions working as an umbrella organization with other heritage groups.
    Surrey Heritage Society members – who include prominent local businessman Bruno Zappone – believe acquiring the collection will be a good fit for Cloverdale, and bolster the historic town centre as a heritage destination.
    Some of the trucks will be on display during the 9th annual Cloverdale Blueberry Festival Aug. 4. Locations include 56A Avenue at 176 Street, Brick Yard Station, and possibly Clover Square Village.

  • I am so glad to hear that the museum is happening. I used to stop by the place in PoCo to check out the trucks and compare notes. I am working on an old truck myself and I always found the “staff” in PoCo to be very friendly and helpful. I am going to keep an eye out for a grand opening. Rumor has it as sometime the last week of August 2012. Congrats. Merrit would have been a long drive.

  • Does anyone know what became of the 1905 Oldsmobile Runabout that use to be in the collection of the B.C. Museum of Transportation in the 1980’s?

  • Has anyone got any recent information on the Teamsters Trucking Museum. Is it open and if so
    what hours? Is there a phone# we can call? We would love to see the museum and would be travelling in from Agassiz so would not make the trip unless it is open. Thanks.

  • Good to hear the trucks will have a permanent facility. I was personally involved when the trucks first came from the BC transportation museum. We started with seventeen trucks. At the time none of them ran. I volunteered with several others underyrthe direction of Norm. I worked on these trucks doing everything necessary. Working evenings and weekends with others we managed to get seven units fully operational again. Glad to be of assistance.