Trucking Two Continents

by Harry Rudolfs

My position at Truck News has put me in touch with a lot of trucking friends from across North America-and now Europe.

A few months ago, Art Irving in Halifax (a former Alltrans driver who used to run the West Coast) alerted me to the dilemma faced by a British couple.

Ann Robinson and Martyn Wardle are both 50-years-old and live in Ashbourne, England. Ashbourne is a small market town in Derbyshire.

They’ve been together for two years and are intensely in love.

Martyn is the European equivalent of a long haul driver, what’s known over there as a “tramper.” His runs are up to six-weeks-long and take him around continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Ann speaks several languages, has secretarial skills, and is currently taking computer courses.

“I’ve even been with Martyn to Spain and Portugal, Germany and France,” Ann writes by e-mail. “A lovely fella and free holidays thrown in! What more could a woman possibly want?”

Martyn has always dreamed of living and working in Canada and the couple has started the process of immigrating.

“Martyn used to have a beautiful white horse and would love, once we get to Canada and established, to have maybe two horses, one for each of us” adds Ann. “I keep saying to him that he should come back in his next life as a horse. He’s quite happy with that idea, as long as Catherine Zeta-Jones is his owner!”

However, taking up residence in another country involves lots of paperwork and red tape. But Ann and Martyn thought they had had the bureaucracy licked.

Last August, they flew to Ontario and Martyn received two firm job offers – one from Challenger Motor Freight and another from Jeff Bryan Trucking.

Unfortunately, the powers that know better (Dept. of Immigration) decided that Martyn would not be allowed to live and work in densely populated southern Ontario.

Mr. Wardle, they suggested, why don’t you try and get a job somewhere in the west, like the Prairies?

So this spring Martyn packed his bags again and made another trip to Canada-this time to Winnipeg.

Here’s his account of his second visit to our country:

“Arrived in Winnipeg at 10 minutes past midnight after a 15 hour flight via Manchester, Amsterdam, and Minneapolis: the snow howling down, gripping the keys to a hire car that I couldn’t find, I thought, ‘What a really good idea this was, to book a hotel 17kms from the airport at this time of night!’ I found it quite easily, actually.

“My interview with Kleysen Transportation Solutions in Winnipeg took place the next day. They seem a very good company and they’re offering a position on their flatbed division.

“They seem to go almost everywhere and my idea of working away, similar to my system here, was amazing to them.

“Accordingly, I was treated like royalty, even taken to lunch! We also took a test drive in a Kenworth: this is what they operate but they’re offering me one with a bigger cab.

“Saskatoon three days later and it was interview time again with WestCan, a division of Paul’s Hauling. They run B-trains hauling bulk materials: potatoes; fertilizer; wheat etc. But they don’t go far enough for me. Driving the B-train was good, reversing it even more so. The guy that took me out was impressed with the reverse manoeuvre! So was I!

“Cutting a long story short, I’ve opted for Kleysen: the truck, wages, conditions, they’re paying for the flight, the training, help with accommodation, even financial help with the purchase of a car, and all this in writing!”

So Martyn has found a job and our country is one skilled driver to the better.

By the time Truck News goes to press, Martyn should be hauling loads around the Mid-West instead of the Middle East.

This story fascinates me because UK trucking is so different from ours.

English truckers drive lorries instead of trucks. Here’s a guy trading his Scania for a Kenworth, his tyres for tires, his arctic for a tractor-trailer, his tipper van for a flat deck, his anorak for a windbreaker, and he seems wholly comfortable transplanting himself into a new environment.

A trucker is a trucker, I suppose.

But this still leaves Ann back in England. I received this e-mail from her a few days ago:

“I’m having lots of worries and doubts about me living in Canada, it’s such a big step Harry, and I’m terrified to be honest. Plus, my 19-year old daughter Alexis doesn’t want to go to Canada the same time as me, she wants to wait 12 months or so before joining me.

“What I need to do, if possible, is to find work and a sponsor. If I could find a sponsor, it means I won’t have to wait the 12 months to join Martyn and start work. I could come out right away on a visitor’s visa, but I don’t want to be a burden to him.

“Is there anyway you can help me? Does Winnipeg have the English equivalent of a Job Centre? Also, could you get me the names of newspapers where I may be able to place an advertisement for work and a sponsor? I just don’t want to sit over here for months on end once Marty leaves; I want to able to join him and start our new lives.”

Incidentally, Ann’s multilingual abilities could be a great asset to a customs or trucking company. And clearly, she could also use some support from the trucking community in Winnipeg once she lands. If anyone has any ideas about how Ann and Martyn can stay together, e-mail me and I’ll pass them on.

– Harry Rudolfs can be reached at

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