2017 CANADA 150 TOUR

A Magical Tour

Authored by Del Holbrook


The Vintage Car Club of Canada’s Canada 150 Tour was a tremendous magical success.  Ken Hoshowski and his committee put together an interesting and adventurous tour through the center of B. C.

58 cars started in Chilliwack on a sunny June 6th afternoon with a “Meet and Greet” hosted by our Chilliwack Chapter.  Registration was handled by Morgan and Linda Borrowman who handed us our useful “goodies” bag and detailed tour book, masterfully written by Ken and Marj Hoshowski.  As we snacked on the crackers, cheese and fruit provided we sipped on the delicious wines available, and chatted with our fellow tour participants.  The grassy fields at Chilliwack Heritage Park provided a great setting for our chairs and many chat groups that sprang up.  Everyone was excited to get rolling towards Kamloops the next morning.  Terry and Donna Johnson had a minor set back with an overheating “Little Red Truck” even before reaching Chilliwack.  An overnight adventure of trading out trucks to pull their camper solved the problem but meant some sleepiness for Terry on Day 2.

We drove from Chilliwack to Kamloops via No.1 highway to Hope and 5A to Princeton for a relaxing lunch stop.  As we travelled in groups of 5 or 6 a virtual “Show and Shine” arrived at each stopover.  Numerous locals came out for a look at the magnificent cars and trucks.  Many stories were told and good times remembered by all our visitors.  Most stories started with “I remember my dad had a car just like this only slightly different…”  Great fun listening to the reminiscing and seeing the smiles.

On the way to Kamloops, most cars stopped at the historic Quilchena Hotel with its magnificent wooden stair case and ornate wooden bar complete with 3 bullet holes.  Glad I was only there for a “lemonade”.  The Quilchena General Store, next door to the hotel, holds memories of a real country store, with wooden floors, full shelves and items only found in real General Stores; it was a glimpse of the past.

Continuing onward along the twisty road adjacent to the east side of the lake, we meandered to Kamloops.  After checking into our hotel, its off to a delicious dinner, graciously provided by the generosity of the Kamloops Chapter.  We all sat on the lawn of the Valley View Community Hall and enjoyed the music of the Rube Band highlighting our Tour Chairman and his clarinet.  After admiring the 89 vintage cars assembled including the Kamloops Chapters fully restored Austin Ambulance, it was time for prize draws and introductions before we slowly returned to our hotels to rest up for another exciting day tomorrow as we pushed onward to 100 Mile House.

Day 3 saw us travel from Kamloops to 100 Mile House through highway 5 and 24.  The scenery was spectacular as the weather continued to cooperate with clear, sunny skies.  The convertibles were driving with their tops down and the wind blowing in their hair, the result, sunburns and raccoon faces but huge smiles too.  Our lunch stop was the Wildman’s Family Restaurant where a delicious turkey soup could be paired with the sandwich of your choice.  More visiting among drivers made some of us slightly late leaving but smiles were the symbol of the day.  Continuing our quest for 100 Mile House and the dinner where we were guests of the 100 Mile Cruisers Car Club at the local Recreation Center.  The Cruisers arranged parking for a huge combined Car Show, our 85 cars and their fleet of shiny cars and trucks.  Just as the show was setup, the skies opened and a thunder storm roared down on us.  Huge rain drops and high winds turned the sunny skies BLACK.  The convertibles rushed to put up their tops while others dashed to the Rec Center for cover.  Just to be sure we knew who was boss, Mother Nature gave us another demonstration of a thunder shower; 30 minutes later all was clear and the BBQ proceeded.  Delicious burgers, scrumptious salads and delectable desserts satisfied everyone.  More socializing and a beautiful fun-filled day came to a close.

Heading north on highway 97, we stopped to enjoy the 108 Mile Heritage Park Historic Site.  Log cabins, barns, stores and a blacksmith shop adorn the grassy park showing us how prospectors and gold miners lived in the late 1800’s.  We were all glad for our running water and central heating.  Back on the road, because lunch beckoned at the Laughing Loon Restaurant and Pub in Williams Lake; a soup and sandwich lunch satisfied our food cravings and provided a stretch break before we headed off to Quesnel.  A trip through the Williams Lake Tourism Discovery Centre wowed us all and provided a peek into what was coming on Day 7.  The Discovery Centre is a log house built by Pioneer Log Homes with a full-size log cabin inside – a spectacular building – can’t wait to visit Pioneer Log Homes site on Monday.  The leisurely drive to Quesnel through the rolling hills of the Cariboo gave us a glimpse into the life of a rancher in Northern B. C.  Large fields, herds of cattle, infrequent houses and very few people dotted the landscape for miles.  Quesnel, finally a garage tour and a quilt shop to visit; not our first quilt shop – actually, more fabric than car parts was purchased on this tour.  Norm Gable did try to adjust the balance in favour of car parts.  Norm somehow managed, with the help of his granddaughter Sophie, to damage his front wheel bearings.  Frantic calls to Lordco and other parts suppliers led to nothing but frustration, then Jim Carpenter rode to the rescue.  He suggested Lloyd’s Parts – a wrecker on the road to Prince George.  With the help of Bill Turner and his well-equipped garage, they managed to extract bearings from one of Lloyd’s wrecks, clean, install and pack them into Norm’s 60 Oldsmobile’s front end.  Cathy was relieved, while Norm, Sophie, and Bill were just tired.

Its off to historic Barkerville with a side stop at Cottonwood Historic site along the way.  Cottonwood House was the main stop on the stage coach route to Barkerville for the gold miners.  The buildings in this park have been carefully preserved to give a flavour of life at a wagon stop.  After a bumpy day on the stage coach from Quesnel, the horses needed a rest, as did the riders.  Small rooms were available for a pleasant sleep and food to refuel the miners for the next days ride.  It took 5 days to travel the 54 miles from Quesnel to Barkerville to pursue your dreams of riches during the Cariboo gold rush.  At the magnificently restored Barkerville Historic Village, lunch was available at several cafes.  Bumpy stage coach rides and a theatrical performance by a 5-person troupe highlighted our visit.  Wandering through the Village, watching the waterwheel, panning for gold flakes in the cold stream water and viewing the many static display buildings were the enjoyable activities as we walked down the muddy streets of this restored gold rush town.  Some people stayed inside the park, some in the Wells Hotel and some even returned to Quesnel for the nights rest.  Wildlife was on display along the road; moose, deer, porcupines, wolves and of course numerous birds were on display for your “Kodak” moments.

Now its of to our most northerly stop – Prince George after a big breakfast and several cups of coffee. Gotta keep those “pottie” break stops regular.  Highway 97 provided the asphalt and we provided the rubber to get there.  Most of us managed to screech our breaks and make a sharp left turn into the Cinema 2nd Hand Store.  A true General Store out of the 40’s or the 50’s.  Four floors of “goodies” everything from cowboy boots and hats to canned food.  Think of anything and they had it tucked into a corner somewhere in the store.  Just wandering through the store brought back memories of the past and questions “Who’s going to buy that?”  They had everything including a smile and a genuine welcome for us all.  Lunch – we hadn’t eaten for about 32 minutes – off to the 97 Diner just south of Hixon.  We filled the restaurant, a lot of laughs, a delightful staff and delicious food.  It’s on the road again heading to Prince George.  Passing numerous cattle farms and isolated farm houses, with the closest neighbour being the cow barn down the road, maybe 5 miles away.  We soldiered on, arriving in PG to a beautiful sunny afternoon, we freshened up before our venture to the Prince George Forestry and Railway Museum for a gander around and another meal.  We were treated to lasagna and Caesar salad with garlic toast; perfect after a long day’s drive.  More socializing, more prizes and a leisurely return to our hotels to rest up for tomorrow’s 150-mile drive back to Williams Lake.

Here’s the day we’ve all been eagerly anticipating.  An early start sees everyone on the road by 8:30. Back down through Hixon, to the Tim Hortons in Quesnel – alas that familiar aroma and taste of “real coffee”.  A donut tops off the visit.  Back on the road with the car and us fueled up – past Kersley, Australian and Alexandra and through Soda Creek, our destination the Laughing Loon in Williams Lake for Lunch – seems like we are always eating; oh well, that’s touring.  The sun continues to shine and build our left arm tan.  1PM, everybody eagerly pacing back and forth in the parking lot awaiting Brian Sr. and Gerald Overton to lead us to the Timber Kings Sugar Cane building site.  We dutifully follow and park our cars.  Everyone jumps out, gather in groups – WHERE DO WE GO! is on our minds.  Soon Brian Sr. leads us to the carving shed.  “Little Man” then demonstrates transforming a cedar log into a beautiful tree with the use of only a buzzing chain saw.  We all look in amazement, no guidelines, just a sea of flying cedar chips.  Voila after just 24 minutes a graceful, symmetric tree evolves.  We all applaud in amazement, “Little Man” waves and we are off to see the building of the 5 houses underway on site.  Peter and Brian Sr. tell us the intricacies of building with cedar logs.  We continue for a couple of hours as we tramp through the layers of saw dust, chips and cedar bark on the ground.  Slowly and reluctantly, we depart the site to prepare for the Pioneer Log Homes sponsored BBQ.  When we assemble the car show at the TDC (Tourist Discovery Centre) in downtown Williams Lake, we are met by a team of green shirted cooks manning several BBQ’s.  This is team NASH, a charity fund raising group helping the Kidney Foundation.  The burgers are juicy and covered with mayonnaise, ketchup, relish and then topped with a plump dill pickle.  We eat and admire the “Cedar Rocket” a tree car” built by Pioneer.  It’s electric with turbine boosts; a real unique vehicle that will be auctioned off at Barrett Jackson next spring.  Now the main event, Team NASH is going to auction off the trees which “Little Man” carved with his chainsaw as we watched.  Nash jumps up on a picnic table, everyone gathers around and the bidding starts, $50, $55, a steady stream of numbers is being yelled out, the bidding slows at $105, then starts again with even more vigor when Nash reminds us that the money is for the Kidney Foundation.  The bidding finally settles at $320 with Peter Ouimet, the proud winner with a giant smile demands a picture.  All is well, but they have another tree.  The bidding proceeds rapidly this time – no more trees, just this one – people slowly drop out of the bidding but Bill Turner keeps going to $325, now he’s the proud owner of the last tree; more pictures and now the evening is over but not the generosity of the car people.  Several rush up to Nash to make additional donations – a nice gesture following a day of amazing events.

Another early start, 8:30 am the wheels roll out of Williams Lake headed for Merritt.  A trip down highway 97 brings us to 100 Mile House – a great coffee and “pottie” stop; some even partake of an ice-cream cone to cool down from the gorgeous sunshine.  Down through Clinton and Cache Creek onto highway 97 towards our lunch stop where the Ashcroft Lions Club have set up their cook trailer adjacent to Ashcroft’s Heritage Park to provide us with lunch including refreshing watermelon.  As we chat and enjoy our lunch under the shade of the many trees that adorn Heritage Park, we marvel at the weather and the beauty of this Canada 150 tour.  A great way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and the 59th May Tour.

Now it’s off toward Logan Lake and on to Merritt.  At Merritt, we checked into our hotels and relaxed before travelling to the City Center and the Nicola Valley Historical Societies “Baille House” Museum.  A flashback into the early life style of Merritt.  Now we are hungry again – it’s just a short walk to the Grand Pub where we can have a steak or chicken dinner; yummy.  Tender steak seems to be the favourite, many smiles beam out from the silence as the knives and forks get a real workout.   Much praise for the chef’s who prepared the delectable meals as well as the brew master who created the cool refreshing suds we quickly consume.  After dinner, we meander off to the Scheinder’s License Plate Museum; plates adorn the walls, ceiling and doors, every imaginable plate is displayed, from bicycles, cars, trucks, some metal, some leather even some with clips on.  A great exhibition of adornments for B. C. cars throughout the ages.  Sadness sets in as we realize tomorrow is the last day of our tour.

Off to Abbotsford and our wrap-up party.  Following highway 8, we skirt through Spences Bridge and head for Hell’s Gate after returning to highway 1.  A stop at the spectacular Hell’s Gate Tramway, a ride down on the tram and lunch at the restaurant highlight this stop.  Off again headed for Hope for our coffee stop.  Destination is in sight – through Chilliwack and on to Aldergrove.  Check in, freshen up and off to the Wrap-up.  Donna and Terry Johnson have graciously allowed us to use their display barn for the event.  Slowly and reluctantly our fellow travellers arrive, smiles and concern on their faces.  The magical Canada 150 tour is nearing the end.  After a delicious buffet dinner arranged by the Central Fraser Valley Chapter, it’s time for the tour awards.  Farthest travelled goes to Brenda and Mike Marshall from New Zealand; Best Blacksmith – Virgl Lyrsgaard who unfortunately forgot the keys to his gas cap but after deftly using a hammer and chisel had the useless gas cap off.  Oldest car on tour – Kevin Bourdon – a 1928 Dodge Sedan; Best Vintage Dress – Angela Holbrook and best decipher of jumbled city clues – Donna Johnson.  The much-anticipated valve cover races took place at the end of the wrap-up. The five finalists vied for the “gasoline” prizes.  In the end, the shiny valve cover of Donna Johnson topped Jeanette Wright and Jim Carpenter for first place and bragging rights.  Just wait until Campbell River.  The gauntlet is thrown.

A bonus day was tacked on the end of the tour as Ian and Doreen Newbie graciously opened his property and collections for all of us to visit.  WOW – an amazing collection of Jaguars, military vehicles and uniforms.  They are a major supplier to the movie industry, especially for war epics.  After a few waves and hugs and tears, the tour is over with everyone looking forward to the Diamond Tour in Campbell River May 11th to 13th, 2018.

During the stops and throughout the entire tour, our nimble photographer, Dave Dickinson, was snapping pictures of cars, people, scenery, guests and historic sites with his ever-ready camera.  You can see a selection of his and others HERE.