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Vintage truck museum revving up for visitors
Cloverdale’s newest heritage attraction is set to open its doors to the public for the first time during Rodeo weekend.
But first, the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum is holding a sneak preview for sponsors this coming Saturday, a celebration that’s happening more than a year after the collection returned to Cloverdale.
The volunteer-run venture has been a labour of love for members of the Surrey Heritage Society, says president Paul Orazietti.
The society acquired the collection of vintage trucks and related memorabilia from the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives Society.
The collection so far consists of 18 medium-sized freight vehicles. Fourteen are completely restored. They range from a 1912 Shell tanker and a 1931 Maple Leaf Flatbed to a 1977 BC Tel service truck.
Many of the vehicles are from the Bob King collection, a colourful trucking company owner whose wife eventually donated them to B.C. premier W.A.C. Bennett.
Many were at the B.C. Transportation Museum in Cloverdale, which was closed down by the provincial government in the early 1990s.
The trucks and associated hardware were relocated one and two at a time from their former home in Port Coquitlam last spring.
Their arrival sparked a flood of volunteers – enthusiasts eager to share their expertise by restoring and preserving these important relics of B.C.’s proud transportation history.
Donors have played an important role, too, stepping in to complete necessary renovations in the museum space.
“This thing has taken on a life of its own,” Orazietti said.
The City of Surrey agreed to let the society house the trucks in a building at 176 Street and 60 Avenue, the former home of the Surrey Museum, and next door to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, playing host to tens of thousands of visitors over the May long weekend during the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.
Since the move, there’s been a number of name changes for the attraction, and the Surrey Heritage Society’s finally settled on the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum.
It’s having a soft launch on May 11, when dignitaries, supporters and guests are invited for a tour, but opens to the public May 17 to 20.
Orazietti says after that, the society hopes to open the museum on weekends, and offer tours by appointment to car clubs.
The museum and its collection of colourful, distinctive-looking (mostly) pre-1950 trucks and freight vehicles will be making its presence felt out in the community as well during Rodeo Week, with several of the restored trucks appearing at the Cloverdale Bed Races May 16, the Chili Cook-off May 17, and Cloverdale Rodeo Parade May 18.
Among the treasures acting as vehicular ambassadors here and further afield? The museum’s 1946 three-ton tractor that'll be pulling a trailer that will act as a stage for live performers.
The following weekend, a couple of the trucks will venture out to the Hyack Festival parade in New Westminster.
Meanwhile, the museum’s website, BCvintagetruckmuseum.org, is nearly ready. And Orazietti said plans are in place so visitors will take self-guided tours using smartphones and QR codes.
Surrey is by far a major trucking centre of B.C., a role that’s only growing, says Orazietti, who adds the society envisions a museum that preserves and shares the history of Surrey, and “the broader transportation history of B.C.”
Orazietti said about a dozen volunteers have been working to get the museum ready for the public, whether it’s been working through stacks of necessary paperwork or working on the vehicles themselves.
“It’s an amazing feat,” he says.