VIDEO: Get a sneak peek at the newly renovated BC Vintage Truck Museum

Volunteers have been working around the clock to finish the $50,000 renovation of Cloverdale museum

The volunteers at the BC Vintage Truck Museum have been working around the clock to put the finishing touches on their $50,000 expansion project.

In April, the provincial government announced the museum would receive a Canada 150 grant for upgrades to the space, and the grant funded much-needed electrical upgrades, a new coat of paint, a fence for a new outdoor truck storage space, replacement ramps to get trucks in and out of the building, and other structural upgrades.

The volunteer-run museum is open to the public on Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and that’s usually when the volunteers work as well. But for the last few weeks, according to Surrey Heritage Society (SHS) vice-president Noel Cleveland, they’ve been working eight hours a day, every day.

When the Cloverdale Reporter visited to take a tour of the newly renovated space, the museum was a hive of activity. Tex Bussey and Les McClure were working on an engine, a team of volunteers were negotiating where the lights should be placed on the fire truck for this year’s Surrey Santa Parade, and SHS secretary Anna Dean was putting the final ornaments on the truck-themed Christmas tree in the back room.

The change in the museum is immediately apparent. Long gone is the dimly lit storage space which made up half of the building’s footprint for years. Instead, visitors are greeted with the scent of fresh paint and nine “new” vintage trucks on display.

Cleveland acted as a tour guide, and he had a story for each truck. He showcased what made each unique – have you ever seen a chain-driven tow truck? – and explained the work that had been done on them, or was yet to be done.

The society moved the nine trucks over from storage to be displayed in the new space, and Cleveland said it was just in time, too.

“We kind of lost our [existing] storage,” he said. “So we went like crazy, painted the whole space, got the signs up.”

The entire renovation process has meant a lot of work for the volunteers. Changing the lighting over to LED, for instance, was very time consuming.

“We had to move things back and forth,” explained Cleveland, “and that takes time out of what you want to do.”

What they want to be doing is truck maintenance, working on the new additions to the collection, or getting their four entries for the Surrey Santa Parade ready, he said.

More change on the horizon

Another big change could be in the works for the museum, as the 1881 Town Hall, which is built into the space, is slated to be moved down 176A Street as a part of the Museum of Surrey’s expansion project.

The building that houses the BC Vintage Truck Museum was Surrey’s first museum, built in 1958 as a Centennial project. It was built around the town hall, which already existed on site at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

The $10.3-million expansion of the Museum of Surrey is well underway, and part of their approved expansion plan is to bring heritage buildings from around Surrey to the site to join the Anderson Cabin in a “heritage square.” The 1881 Town Hall is one of those buildings.

The problem, as far as the BC Vintage Truck Museum sees it, is that, since support beams for the building run through the 1881 Town Hall, a portion of the museum would need to be demolished in order to remove the building without damaging it.

SHS secretary Anna Dean will be going before the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission on Wednesday night to make “one last appeal,” she said.

“We are making a final attempt to request the 1881 Town Hall be left where it is,” she wrote in an email to the Cloverdale Reporter. “Failing that, we need them to take it out in a way that does not destroy our museum.”

Cleveland is hoping that the space could be salvaged, and a roof put over it, so that they can make use of the room. He explained that if that was possible, they could move some “old logging trucks” into the space.

In the meantime, the volunteers keep working. The renovation is nearly complete, and the museum volunteers hope to host a grand opening event early next year.

“It’s taking time, but it’s coming,” said Cleveland.

Visitors can also check out the changes SHS has made in other rooms of the building. In the front hall, there’s a 1910 International Auto-Wagon, on loan from the B.C. Pioneer Truck Society. Or find the museum’s first diesel truck, which was brought in just two weeks ago – a G.W. Ledingham truck, that was “built out of three trucks,” according to Cleveland. Or take a peek in the workshop, which has “everything from the 20s, 30s, 40s.” You can see calendars from 1932, a breakdown of a ‘31 Ford pick-up and vintage licence plates. Not to mention “all the old tools that your great-great-granddad probably used.”

The BC Vintage Truck Museum is located at 6022 176 Street. For more information, visit www.bcvintagetruckmuseum.org.

 

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