Cel­e­brat­ing a coun­try

Vancouver Sun - - DRIVING - ALYN ED­WARDS Alyn Ed­wards is a clas­sic car en­thu­si­ast and part­ner in Peak Com­mu­ni­ca­tors, a Van­cou­ver-based pub­lic re­la­tions com­pany. aed­

On June 29, wagon mas­ter Fraser Field will round up more than 200 fel­low trav­ellers and ride out of town.

That is, af­ter the driv­ers of more than 100 vin­tage and clas­sic ve­hi­cles dip their tires in the Pa­cific Ocean in Vic­to­ria and drive to the ferry to the main­land. It will be the first leg of a long jour­ney.

Ap­prox­i­mately 8,000 kilo­me­tres down the high­way, af­ter cross­ing two moun­tain ranges, trav­el­ling across Canada’s Prairie prov­inces, through On­tario and Que­bec and into the Mar­itimes with a ferry ride to New­found­land, the Cana­dian Coast­ers will dip their tires in the At­lantic Ocean at Cupids, New­found­land and Labrador. The trip will take 70 days.

The wag­ons are an as­sorted con­voy of vin­tage ve­hi­cles at least 30 years old, with some dat­ing back more than eight decades.

Fraser Field, a former B.C. para­medic, drove his 1969 Pon­tiac am­bu­lance across Canada on the 2000 tour and again on the last tour in 2010 — from New­found­land to Vic­to­ria. The am­bu­lance had put in years of ser­vice in Kel­logg, Idaho.

This year, he has pre­pared an­other vin­tage am­bu­lance with a long B.C. his­tory. His 1948 Chevro­let one-ton am­bu­lance/res­cue ve­hi­cle went into ser­vice at the Sullivan Mine in the south­east­ern B.C. com­mu­nity of Kim­ber­ley on May 8, 1948. It cost the Con­sol­i­dated Min­ing and Smelt­ing Com­pany (Com­inco) $2,441.24.

Raised on a dairy farm in Port Co­quit­lam, the handy am­bu­lance owner has completely re­built the 1948 truck with mod­ern run­ning gear, in­clud­ing an up­dated 261 cu­bic inch six­cylin­der en­gine with com­put­er­ized dual tuned port in­jec­tion cou­pled to a four-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

“I built it with com­mon com­po­nents so I can stop at auto wreck­ers along the way and get re­place­ment parts if nec­es­sary,” Field says, a hint of pride in his voice.

He and wife Dorothy have spent five years or­ga­niz­ing the Cana­dian Coast­ers Coast-to-Coast Tour, which will mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the first trans-con­ti­nen­tal vin­tage ve­hi­cle tour that ended at Mon­treal’s Expo 67 world fair.

That was Canada’s cen­ten­nial. This tour will com­mem­o­rate Canada’s 150th birthday with many com­mu­ni­ties along the way link­ing their Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tions to the pass­ing tour.

“There is no other tour in the world like this one with or­ga­niz­ers in com­mu­ni­ties along the route hold­ing events for us and making ev­ery day spe­cial,” Field en­thuses.

Overnight stops will largely be in camp­grounds with vis­its to mu­se­ums, spe­cial at­trac­tions and pri­vate car col­lec­tions.

For ex­am­ple, the tour will in­clude the Ross­land Min­ing Mu­seum dur­ing a stop in Trail. While in On­tario, par­tic­i­pants will take a ferry from Man­i­toulin Is­land on Lake Huron — the largest fresh­wa­ter is­land in the world.

“We en­cour­age peo­ple to come out to look at the trans­porta­tion of the past when­ever we stop and many com­mu­ni­ties or­ga­nize their own car shows for us to par­tic­i­pate in,” Field says.

Joann Vil­leneuve, wife of the late leg­endary race car driver Gilles Vil­leneuve and mother of World F1 Cham­pion Jac­ques Vil­leneuve, has agreed to lend her sup­port and name as Honourary Chair­man of the 2017 Coast-to­Coast Tour. She is chair­man of the planned Vil­leneuve Au­to­mo­tive Mu­seum and will host an event for the tour in Mon­treal

“The Coast­ers is a fab­u­lous or­ga­ni­za­tion of great peo­ple from all walks of life and ev­ery part of our na­tion, united in their pas­sion for show­cas­ing our au­to­mo­tive her­itage which is ex­actly the mis­sion of our planned mu­seum,” she says.

Odd­i­ties on the tour will in­clude a 1929 Ply­mouth con­verted to an elec­tric car. It will be car­ried in the back of a van and driven out dur­ing stopovers be­cause of the lack of charg­ing sta­tions along the way.

Other in­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cles in­clude a 1940 Ford panel van orig­i­nally used by the Vic­to­ria Po­lice Depart­ment as a paddy wagon, a 1938 Ford sedan and a 1958 Austin Cam­bridge.

Two Ford Sky­liner re­tractable hard­top con­vert­ibles from B.C. will make the trip — a 1957 model owned by Ab­bots­ford’s Rick Cathro and a 1959 model owned for 30 years by South Surrey res­i­dents Alec and Yvonne Pont.

“It’s the trip of a life­time and a chance to see ru­ral parts of the coun­try we may never see,” Alec Pont says.

Two vin­tage buses on the tour in­clude a 1954 Greyhound and a 1967 Trail­ways tow­ing a 1948 Jeep.

John Carl­son, pres­i­dent and chief judge of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Clubs of Canada (NAACC), and wife Koko from Bel­carra, will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in their un­re­stored orig­i­nal 1973 Mus­tang, once owned by the wife of a former Saskatchew­an premier.

“This tour is a NAACC-sanc­tioned event that also com­mem­o­rates the 50th an­niver­sary of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Clubs of Canada. We are grate­ful for the ded­i­ca­tion and hard work of wagon masters Fraser and Dorothy Field, ” John Carl­son says.

All but 16 of the par­tic­i­pants will be tow­ing trail­ers for camp­ing along the way. Others will be booked into mo­tels.

Sev­eral of the Coast­ers were on the orig­i­nal tour in 1967 when they were kids. The oldest par­tic­i­pant is 82. Among the youngest will be the Fields’ grand­son Lu­cas.

Since the tours are planned ev­ery 10 years, the 68-year-old wagon mas­ter hopes he will be able to take in the next one.

He be­lieves driv­ing coast-to­coast across Canada and back again with new and old friends is a great way to cel­e­brate Canada’s driv­ing her­itage and the coun­try’s 150th birthday.

Fraser Field’s re­stored 1969 Pon­tiac am­bu­lance par­tic­i­pated in the 2000 and 2010 Coast to Coast tours.

This 1948 Chevro­let one-ton am­bu­lance once used as a mine res­cue ve­hi­cle has been mod­i­fied by Fraser Field for the 2017 Coast to Coast Tour.

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