OTTAWA, Ont. – Members of the Bytown Fire Brigade are readying to take their show on the road. They will they spend this summer rolling coast-to-coast to celebrate the new millennium.
The group will proudly show off a trio of trucks including a 1927 Sanford pumper, a 1928 American-LaFrance pumper and a 1939 Bickle Ford pumper.
The three pumpers will be trucked to St. John’s, Nfld. early in May, from which point they’ll begin their drive on May 22 or 23. The vehicles will stop at Ottawa on June 28 or 29 and remain there for July 1 festivities.
Each of the 10 provincial capitals will be included in the campaign, which ends in Victoria, B.C. on Labour Day Weekend, Sept. 2-4.
Peter Ryan, president of the society, says there really are three reasons for the trek, which evolved from discussions three years earlier of a possible transcontinental trip in one of the society’s vintage vehicles with fellow member Georges Potvin.
“First off, we want to show people the importance of saving and restoring history,” says Ryan. The group is aware of seven antique fire trucks that have been cut up and sold for scrap in recent years.
“They’re worth about $1,000 to $1,500 sold this way … on the other hand, I know of a complete- ly restored unit that sold for US $128,000 in the U.S.,” complains Ryan. He adds that, while restoring fire vehicles is a labor of love and far from a profitable operation, the vehicles must be preserved.
“They had an effect on the development of many Canadian communities,” he says.
In addition, Ryan says his group will also work with various local fire services promoting fire safety and supporting any other campaigns that the local groups have.
“We’re gonna attract attention,” insists Ryan. “Both with the public and through the media.”
He adds that the third motive behind the nation-wide tour is to help boost national unity.
By tying the tour to the year 2000, the brigade was able to obtain $77,000 in funding from the Millennium Bureau of Canada towards the event’s $307,000 budget. The remainder is being raised through fund-raising activities, such as monthly bingos, and funding from corporate sponsors, such as Energizer Canada.
So far, about 35 of the 80 fire departments that have been contacted about the tour have expressed an interest in preparing special events around the visits. A number of communities have even promised to provide food, gas and accommodation during their stopover, Ryan added.
“It’s not so much going up the hills through Rogers Pass that concerns us. It’s the going down the other side,” says Ryan. n
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