Canada, Where it all started

Where it all started

Our self-converted VW camper in Canada

Shortly after we married in 1977 we emigrated to Canada. Instead of flying we took the Stefan Batory, a modest Polish ship providing a scheduled transatlantic service.

Our intention was to drive across Canada from Montreal to Calgary. A visit to the ‘Australian Car Centre’ located under a flyover somewhere in London resulted in the purchase of a T2 ‘bay window’ VW transporter with a ‘bus’ layout. The total mileage was unknown, but it was likely to have had an interesting life, as there were road maps of Turkey and North Africa still inside.

My Dad helped me with the conversion into a camper van, complete with kitchen, but without a lifting roof. After a farewell do in the pub with all our friends, we left for Tilbury docks in London the following day. Our journey was interesting, a loud noise on the motorway followed by a significant loss of power caused us to pull over onto the hard shoulder, revealing a spark plug hanging from it’s cable. After screwing it back in it became obvious the thread had stripped. Not a good start! A couple of wraps of tin foil sorted things out, all the way to Calgary (a 2,400 mile drive). We didn’t even have time to lock the doors, before our van was hoisted on board.

1977.06_1web VW hoisted on board

The voyage was an adventure, including excellent food, some rough weather, sailing between icebergs, and watching beluga whales, before we arrived in Montreal.

Leaving Tilbury Docks, London

Leaving Tilbury Docks, London

Jane leaving England

Jane leaving England

mid-Atlantic

mid-Atlantic

Atlantic storm 21 June 1977

Atlantic storm 21 June 1977

Iceberg on approach to Gulf of St Lawrence

Iceberg on approach to Gulf of St Lawrence

Jane in Gulf of St Lawrence

Jane in Gulf of St Lawrence

Alan, in Montreal

Alan in Montreal harbour

Jane in Montreal harbour

Jane, traveling through Ontario

Jane, traveling through Ontario

Whilst living and working in Calgary we made good use of our van, traveling around and exploring the province of Alberta and beyond, including the Rocky mountains, Drumheller badlands and dinosaur area, Waterton Lakes, Flathead Lake (Montana) etc.

Rocky Mountains near Moraine Lake

Rocky Mountains near Moraine Lake

Lots of good memories, this is where our van travels started.

Inevitably we had to replace the engine, and eventually traded it in for a new Jeep Cherokee Chief in 1979. There followed a rather long gap before our next van in 2012, some 33 years later.

I don’t think we can claim the Jeep as our second van, however we did occasionally sleep in it and camped with it on several occasions, so I may cheat a little and include it, that will reduce the gap by a few years.