Trucking for a few years, and I still love trucks

A few days ago, I renewed my Class 1 driver’s licence, meaning I can drive anything from semi-trailer rigs down. For many years, there hasn’t been any practical reason for doing it, but it’s part of how I identify myself. That thought got me looking back in my “Trucks” photo folder, at some of the trucks I’ve driven and places I’ve gone with them, as well as some of the hundreds of photos of trucks I’ve shot since I stopped driving them. I have many more as slides and prints, but I didn’t go through them.

I began driving semis for Overwaitea Foods in 1979. They had one small semi, a single-axle International, used for local pick-ups, and when I heard in 1978 that the driver was thinking about moving to a different job, I went to a commercial driving school and got my Class 1 and air brake ticket. When the job posting did indeed come up, I was the only one qualified in-house to take it.

A few months before I got the job, Overwaitea had bought a new semi, a much larger tandem-axle 1980 Western Star, and a 45-foot enclosed trailer. The primary justification for the new rig was the need for at least 40,000 pounds of sugar products at the warehouse every day. The little International required 2 trips to bring that in, while the Western Star could do it in one. The first photo was shot from the Western Star in June 1989 as I was passing Vanterm, the container facility in Vancouver’s Inner Harbour.

Vanterm, the container facility in Vancouver's Inner Harbour, in 1989
My rig at BC Sugar in June 1989. Every once in a while, an American driver with little experience backing into tight spots would arrive – I sometimes offered to do it for them, and the offer was usually gratefully accepted 🙂

My Overwaitea tractor-trailer rig at BC Sugar in June 1989.
I got a lot of holidays at Overwaitea – so many that I often drove semis on long-haul runs for other companies on my time off. Those trips would sometimes be team driving, sometimes solo. The cabover Freightliner in the next photo was one of the trucks I drove. It’s seen at Dead Man’s Flats on the Trans-Canada in July 1986.

A cabover Freightliner at Dead Man's Flats on the Trans-Canada in July 1986
Ellison Mills at Lethbridge, Alberta, was a common destination on the highway trips – the 1986 Freightliner named “Purple People Eater” was a beautiful truck to drive. The next 2 photos were shot at Lethbridge in January 1989.

1986 Freightliner named Purple People Eater

Ellison Mills at Lethbridge, Alberta
For 3 years (1987-1989), I ran the western States on many of my moonlighting weeks. The next photo was shot from a Kenworth along I-5 in California in July 1989.

Kenworth along I-5 in California in July 1989
The Kenworth on Route 178 at Kern River Canyon, where I’d gone on an oppressively hot day in July 1989 while waiting for a load of produce at nearby Bakersfield. The stains in this photo and the one above were caused when I fell into the Kern River and my film got wet 🙂 (I was shooting Kodachrome 64 slide film in those days).

Kenworth at Kern River Canyon, California, in July 1989
In April 1990, I quit my job at Overwaitea and moved to Whitehorse to be a driver/guide on Yukon-Alaska tours. A couple of years later, Overwaitea closed the warehouse and everyone lost their jobs – it was good to leave on my own terms. I never lost my love of trucks, and the North has offered many good truck photo-ops, like this ore-hauler on the South Klondike Highway in January 1996. It was northbound from Skagway, where its load had been dumped to be loaded onto a freighter. Those trucks were called “muffin trucks” because of the shape of their ore containers.

'Muffin truck' ore-hauler on the South Klondike Highway in January 1996
I’ve always had a particular fascination with mountain logging trucks, and in 2015 a friend introduced me to Farwell Canyon, west of Williams Lake, BC. It has turned into an amazing place to shoot logging trucks, as the next 3 photos will show.

Logging trucks at Farwell Canyon, west of Williams Lake, BC

Logging trucks at Farwell Canyon, west of Williams Lake, BC

Logging trucks at Farwell Canyon, west of Williams Lake, BC

Well, that’s a brief look at my connection with trucks. I’d like to make one more trip with a semi, and I still have the licence to do it 🙂


Trucking for a few years, and I still love trucks — 6 Comments

  1. Very interesting. Always wanted to drive long haul but never did. My son did for a few years mainly into S Ont and PQ.

  2. That adds another neat fill in chapter, Murray… You had mentioned trucks a few times and certainly driving the tour buses…good memories.

    I wouldn’t have remembered that containership traffic was so advanced in 1990 time period.

    Do you remember where that one pic of I-5 in CA is? I can’t place that bend, as I made dozens and dozens of trips there from LA to Fresno to near Yosemite NP where my parents lived at the time. Often we hopped off onto Rte 99, which was closer to our end destination.

    Did you ever run into Thule Fog while you were there…?!

    • I’m pretty sure that I-5 photo is southbound dropping down from the Siskyous in northern CA. Yes, I had many lousy miles in those Tule fogs, but I recently saw an article saying that it’s increasingly rare.