A celebratory crowd turned out for last week’s grand opening of Surrey’s newest heritage attraction – the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum.
On Oct. 9, more than a year since a fleet of vintage trucks arrived in Cloverdale, supporters, volunteers and guests gathered for speeches and the official ribbon cutting.
With dignitaries ranging from acting Surrey mayor Mary Martin and B.C. cabinet minister Shirley Bond to representatives of the Teamsters Freight Museum and Archives and others, it was a big night for members of the Surrey Heritage Society.
The new museum at 6050 176 Street opened last May in the old Surrey Museum site after nearly a year of preparations and is home to a collection of beautifully-preserved freight and work vehicles.
Part of the collection was amassed by Bob King, whose niece Norma McCormack was on hand to thank those involved for preserving a slice of B.C. transportation history.
She recalled how her uncle had saved up his money to purchase his first truck as a newly married man living in the rental next to her parent’s home. “It just mushroomed from there,” she said. “It’s just interesting to think how it all evolved and how his dream materialized.”
The trucks, donated to the provincial government, were on display in Cloverdale as part of the Heritage Transportation Centre, which closed in the 1990s.
Surrey Heritage Society president Paul Orazietti credited the Teamsters, including Norm Lynch, the former curator of the Teamsters Freight Museum and Archives in Port Coquitlam.
“They’re part of the history of this collection, and like the torch at the Olympics, they were part of keeping this history alive. There are a lot of people here who kept the history alive.”
Orazietti also thanked the list of sponsors and donors who helped make the project a reality.
Surrey Firefighters brought out a couple of their own vintage fire trucks at short notice to display at the event.
In addressing the crowd, Bond – Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, as well as Labour, marveled at the volunteer spirit on display, and said the museum will attract visitors from all over the province.
“I live in Prince George and I know there are people who will travel all the way here to see museums like this,” Bond said. “I think this will be a real drawing card for your community.”
Stephanie Cadieux, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA, also offered her congratulations.
“The passion of the people in this community is tremendous,” Cadieux said. “It’s a long time in the making,” she added, calling it a tremendous addition to “our little centre of the universe,” a reference to Bill Reid, a former Surrey Heritage Society director a booster of the project who passed away in May.
Judy Villeneuve, chair of the city’s cultural committee, said she’s looking forward to bringing her grandson to the new museum.
“Congratulations to all the people who worked really hard,” she said. “When you first came before council, we were a little bit skeptical on how you were going to get all the trucks to fit in this museum.”
She said Surrey is putting together a cultural marketing plan that includes the museum.
Acting mayor Mary Martin helped officially open the museum, which she said gives Surrey residents a deeper understanding of the city’s founding decades.
She offered special thanks to the Surrey Heritage Society.
“Your ongoing dedication to preserving our heritage continues to inspire us to learn about the generations that shaped our city.”
Director and volunteer Harold Wellenbrink recalled the countless hours spent cleaning and polishing the floors – just one aspect of the long road to the grand opening.
“All in all, in a short period of time we have become a destination to many individuals who love heritage and history and particularly the vintage trucks on display,” said the evening’s M.C., local historian Roger Bose.
The trucks have been “lovingly restored and fiercely protected over the years,” he added.
For more information on the museum, visit http://www.bcvintagetruckmuseum.org.