Fred Loucks of Vancouver saw the potential of a trucking service from Vancouver, into Dawson Creek and the surrounding area. In January 1961 he purchased Derban Transport from Charlie and Daryl Derban. The senior partner, Charlie Derban agreed to work for Fred and together they opened their office in Vancouver. In May 1961 they opened an office in Dawson Creek, putting Bob Rowe in as manager.
When the office was opened in May, they only had one truck a week, arriving here on Monday. Within a few months they were able to increase the service to twice weekly, setting a firm schedule of Monday and Thursday. This schedule was kept, regardless of the size of the load. Bob Rowe said, “One day I drove to Quesnel in a pick-up truck to bring in the scheduled load in order to have it in on time. It was only 4000 pounds and 2000 pounds of that was butter for the Hudson Bay Store.”
Throughout the year of 1961 business steadily grew with Fred increasing his fleet and service till it became a daily operation. As Bob said, “We worked hard and tried to give good service to all our customers”. By 1964 the fleet of trucks consisted of eleven tractors and thirty trailer units. With this increase of trucks, Bob said, “I phoned Fred in Vancouver and asked him where all his power was,” and he replied”, you have it all in Dawson Creek and area.” On that particular Monday morning there were seven rigs in and three of them were loaded with a barge for the Department of Highways at Hudson Hope.
Early in January 1965 some men came up to Mr. Rowe and wanted to take pictures of the warehouse and office. They also wanted to take some measurements. When Bob asked what this was all about he was told, “we have an option to buy out Loucks Trucking Service.” This was all the information he could get until he was later told in March 1965 that Canadian Pacific Merchandise Services, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railway, had bought Fred out.
They opened their office here in April 1965 with Rowe staying on as terminal manager as well as his staff. The only way Canadian Pacific Merchandise Services could get an operating authority was to buy out a local trucking firm. The name “Canadian Pacific Merchandising Services” was changed to “Canadian Pacific Transport” in July 1970.
Bob recalls that first month when the people of Dawson Creek were getting used to having the service of another Railway — even if it was by truck — in their area. Bob, along with a newly hired office clerk Nona Stauffer handled the many inquires and set up the new schedule and delivered the last of Fred Loucks Freight. After the groundwork had been completed, the fun began.
There was an outstanding contract to haul honey for Hodgson Bee Supply of Vancouver. This one big haul was to present many, many problems. Keeping track of mileage and time, obtaining Alberta Permits and over-load permits — none of this had really occurred in the Vancouver Office. Then came the job of having enough barrels brought in to handle the 650 ton of honey that had to be picked up from Falher, Girouxville, Nampa, North Star and Sexsmith — all Alberta points — and Fort St. John and Dawson Creek in British Columbia. As Bob said, “remember the load of barrels we ordered and waited and waited for”. I well remember the shipment and just how long it took to locate them. Believe it or not they were sent out by mistake through the Okanagan and had to be re-routed back to us. Even with all the little misadventures we were able to get the honey hauled and this is still a big part of the business each year, but nothing in that quantity has since been shipped.
Bob went on to tell me that in the recent years they have a good business in shipping Grass Seed from Northern Alberta over to Liverpool, England. Some of it also goes to Amsterdam and to Sweden as well as to points in the United States. All this must be cleared through customs in Vancouver or Edmonton. They now hope that they can have this done here in Dawson Creek when the new Sufferance Warehouse is opened. The New Sufferance Warehouse will make Dawson Creek known as a “Point of Entry” or Customs Port.
As we further discussed the hauling of freight Bob went on to say, “Did you know we haul 40 tons of hanging meat every week”? Not being familiar with hanging meat I asked, “What is hanging meat?” He replied, “All the trucks have rollers across the top of the van and we hang all the meat rather than pile it”. This meat is picked up from various meatpacking plants in the Peace River Country.
There has always been a daily freight run made to Fort St. John, giving that community the same service that Dawson Creek has enjoyed. Freight for northern and other points has always been interlined to other carriers in the district. Freight has also been brought in from Edmonton since CP Transport took over and they also work closely with the N.A.R. service.
This service from Vancouver has been a real benefit to the people of the Peace River Country as previously they had to bring shipments from Vancouver in by way of Edmonton.