WHITBY, Ont. — Ross Mackie has 84 years of memories with Mackie Transportation, and in June he hit the road to make a few more.
Founded in 1928 the company was just six years old when Ross was born. Now in its 90th year the fleet has been run by five generations of the Mackie family.
To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the company four generations of Mackie’s piled into a Peterbilt 578 and drove from Whitby to Seattle with a full load, and stops in Manitoba and Vancouver along the way.
Ross is father, grandfather, and great-grandfather to the three others that took the trip with him, with the youngest, Jaxon, coming in at just 11 years old.
While Jaxon was unable to help with the driving – that’s a job being tackled by son Dean and grandson Shawn – he was happy to take the trip and the week off school that came with it.
“I didn’t do well in school so I want him to get a good education,” says Ross. “A lot of fellas in my time didn’t enjoy school, but we did well for ourselves. That’s why you’ve got to surround yourself with good men and women.”
The elder Mackie attributes the fleet’s long life to those good men and women that have worked for the family for decades, and says he’s proud of not only his own success but theirs too.
Ross started his driving career at just 17 years old in 1951 with the family business and remembers making deliveries in a much different way.
“I got picture of me with a team of horses.”
Ross’ memories of the road include being stopped during an official ribbon cutting on the highway near the WaWa Goose and seeing Terry Fox on his run in Ontario’s north.
“I was a young guy driving then. I come upon him when he was walking east of Thunder Bay.”
The encounter occurred in August 1980 just before Fox was forced to call off his Marathon of Hope – a walk across the country to raise funds for cancer research. A disease he eventually succumb to the following Spring.
Ross called the trip quality family time with plans to make stops along the way not only to see the sights – like the WaWa Goose – but to catch up with old trucker pals whom he doesn’t get to see as often as he’d like.
Ross gets emotional when talking about all the people he’s met on the journey, but none moreso than members of the trucking community – family he’s made from a lifetime on the road.
“I’ve just had a great life.”
The group planned to reached Seattle in four days, dropping off their load of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The party left the truck in the west and most flew back to Ontario. Dean, the exception, planned to ride his own version of the famed two-wheeler back east with his wife.
“I’m going to make an interesting trip out of it,” Ross said. “I’m so glad we’re doing it, because when I think of how the industry has come so far in all those years, from running horses to the trucks we’ve got today… it’s really something.”
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