IRRICANA, Alta. – Adapting to whatever life threw his way provided Phil Walton with valuable life skills, which served him well during a long and successful career in the trucking industry.
This spring, the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) Alberta Chapter presented Walton with a Golden Achievement Award at the Pioneer Acres truck museum in Irricana, Alta.
The born and raised Albertan spent the bulk of his youth moving from town to town, taking any job to keep clothed and fed, which attributed to his entrepreneurial and independent spirit.
Finding work on farms, ranches, a mine and a dairy opertaion it was not until Walton turned 14-years-old when he had his first experience behind the wheel of a truck.
However, the experience was short-lived.
Walton’s uncle was employed in Calgary driving a truck and lowboy, hauling equipment.
After riding with his uncle on a few trips, the owner asked if Walton could drive a truck and the young man eagerly took the wheel.
A few days after Walton started steering a dump truck around the city, the company began checking drivers’ licences. The check essentially ended Walton’s first stint as a truck driver, but it would not be his last.
Walton obtained his Class 1 licence while just 16-years-old, working with a geophysical outfit in Northern Alberta.
After working a few more odd jobs here and there, Walton finally solidified a career in trucking with the purchase of an F700 Ford equipped with a gravel box in the Spring of 1957.
As new roads were being constructed across the province, it seemed like a sound investment and his first job was working on the construction of Hwy. 43 on the Valleyview-Whitecourt cut-off.
Rainy weather put a damper on the construction business and Walton headed north to Grande Prairie to haul in the forest industry.
Switching back and forth between log hauling and gravel work, Walton eventually steered his operation into the oilpatch. During the next few years his fleet grew and he was not only involved in hauling cement on a contract basis for another carrier, but he was also putting trucks to work in the oilpatch and pipelining.
By 1965 he had seven tractors and 10 trailers in his fleet.
Walton’s success in the trucking business is credited with his ability to analyze what had to be moved, and then construct a conveyance to handle it and figure out just how to move it.
Over the years Phil Walton Enterprise Hauling has been involved in hauling just about any kind of material or machinery.
On one occasion, he had a ground locomotive constructed to move goods in the Old Crow-area of the Yukon where CN Communications was building microwave bases.
All wheels were powered by electric motors, which in turn were powered by a generator unit. This unit had a large flatdeck and pulled one trailer; capable of moving 12,000 gallons of fuel per load.
And where trucks could not be used, boats were purchased and put into place to move the freight by water.
Even today at an age when most people would retire after a life of hard work, he has just bought a new tractor unit for himself.
– Adapted from a speech delivered by ATHS member Paul Rubak.