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A trucker’s story: Wheels rolling on mobile museum of trucking

HAMILTON, Ont. - Canadian truckers are a misunderstood bunch, but this could soon change thanks to the Musuem Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Sheila Copps, Minister of Canad...


HAMILTON, Ont. – Canadian truckers are a misunderstood bunch, but this could soon change thanks to the Musuem Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage, has announced funding for a travelling exhibit to take the Canadian trucker’s story directly to the public.

Highway Workplace: The Story of the Canadian Trucker will be housed in a 53′ drop deck trailer crammed with interactive exhibits to explain the trucker’s eye-view.

Anticipated to be ready in two years, the “rolling museum” will visit schools, county fairs, community centres, shopping malls and truck stops across the country.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (WAHC) of Hamilton, Ont. Renee Johnston, executive director of the center, is ecstatic about the project.

“It’s perfect for our mandate because we’re one of the only centres in Canada celebrating and valorizing the lives of working people.”

Sandra Lucs, of Vilnis Design in Eden Mills, Ont., co-wrote the proposal. Her company has worked on many mobile displays, but this one, she says, is unique.

“This is an exhibit about truckers that is contained in a working truck. It’ll be driving across the country like all the rest of the rigs. I don’t think anyone has taken this approach before,” Lucs says.

Johnston says the presentation will look at a wide spectrum of issues in the trucking profession: historical and cultural aspects, including the music and personal stories of truckers, health and safety concerns, the ongoing highway versus rail debate, unionization in the industry and, of course, the role played by independent operators.

“The exhibit will use oral history, artifacts, art work, interactive video and audio technology as well as the physical environment of an actual truck to explore the history, culture and economics of the Canadian trucking industry,” says Johnston. “Canada moves by truck, but what does anyone know about the men and women who drive them? What kind of special skills do they have? We’re taking the show into the communities to reach more people.”

Heritage Canada has made $54,780 available for the initial research and development phase of the project through its Museums Assistance Program.

The final budget could range from $500,000 to as much as $1 million (depending on whether or not WAHC can acquire a driving simulator).

The trailer will be equipped with its own generator, lighting, heating and air conditioning system, as well as an attendant who will provide security and answer questions.

Proposed displays include a dispatch routing game (Do you have what it takes to be a trucker?); a presentation of trucking through literature and the movies (from John Steinbeck to Milton Acorn to Cannonball); songs by Canadian artists like Stompin’ Tom, Stevedore Steve, Bud Roberts and Hank Snow; and the trucking photography of Cal Bannow; Can you talk trucker? (an interactive audio loop explaining CB jargon); static and active technological displays; and perhaps a driving simulator.

Truck News has been behind this project from its inception, pledging support while it was still on the drawing board.

“We’re happy to be involved in an exhibition of this scope,” says editor John Curran. “It should go a long way to bridging the gap between the trucking community and the general public.”

Curran adds, “Canadians will be able to associate a human element with some of those 600,000 truck trips a week that keep our country strong.”

Johnston says she will be approaching sectors of the trucking industry for help in the coming year.

“We’ll need people to pull the trailer for us, and we are looking for donations of equipment and sponsorship. All donations are tax deductible,” she adds.

The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre is located at 51 Stuart St., Hamilton, Ont. Renee Johnston can be reached at 905-522-3003 ext. 23. Her e-mail is reneej@web.net.


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