Teamsters team up to preserve trucking history

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PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. – A number of volunteers have banded together to ensure the history of trucking in B.C. is preserved.

Since 1996, the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives Society has been collecting antique trucks, bringing them back to life when needed and proudly displaying them in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

“If we don’t preserve it nobody else will and some of these trucks would just end up in the dump or down in the US somewhere,” explained Norm Lynch, president and curator of the museum. “All the trucks we have here were working in the Lower Mainland.”

As well as boasting an extensive collection of antique gas pumps, old photographs, oil dispensers from the 30s and 40s, antique tools and cabinets with truck models; the museum currently showcases 18 antique trucks.

The oldest truck in the Teamsters Museum collection is a 1914 FWD.

Recently the society completed the restoration of a 1937 International.

The project was sponsored by Carl Vanderspek – owner of Lion’s Gate Trailers – as a tribute to his father.

The elder Vanderspek, Jim, owned a number of trucking operations throughout the Lower Mainland during the 30s and 40s; and the restored 1937 International now sits in the museum as a symbol of his legacy.

With such an extensive working collection of antique trucks, the society also enjoys bringing its display to the public during special occasions.

“We just did the May Day parade with four vehicles,” said Lynch.

“We’ll also be doing the Aug. 19 Port Coquitlam car show. It’s always a good show because the weather is always nice. It’s extremely well done with lots of nice vehicles, not just trucks.”

Taking up 12,000 sq.-ft. of warehouse space, the nearly full museum evolved from an anniversary celebration for the Teamsters Local 31.

As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, the Local 31 hoped to obtain a truck from the same year. But without proper time to prepare, Lynch instead outfitted the party with a number of old photographs and memorabilia from the era.

Following the party, Lynch suggested the Local 31 start a museum; and his inkling got the wheels turning.

“We found some trucks out in Chilliwack from the old Transportation Museum. They were government owned, so they leant them to us for three years to see what we’d do with them,” noted Lynch.

“Now we’re the owners of all the vehicles here.”

Lynch, like all the volunteers who keep the year-round museum running, spent the majority of his working life as a member of Local 31.

With 47 years of professional trucking under his belt, Lynch spent 40 years as a member of Local 31; and for 30 years drove for Arrow Transportation, hauling heavy machinery to the mines in northern B.C. and up into the Yukon and Alaska.

Lynch is not the longest-serving member of the Local 31 to aid in the museum’s upkeep and daily operations, but they are all volunteers and intent on preserving the industry they helped to build in B.C.

“The museum is completely volunteer run,” added Lynch. “If we don’t preserve it nobody will know what was going on in the old days. The guys around here were a part of building the industry.”

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