Joe Ellison Story
Joe Ellison was a former PIX company driver. During summer of 1960 more than two years before the completion of the Rogers Pass in 1962 Joe was a co-star of a Vancouver CBC TV production “The Long Haul” that was filmed during a PIX trip from Vancouver to Calgary via Snoqualmie Pass in Washington, Eastport Idaho/Kingsgate BC border crossings and the Crowsnest Pass with his sleeper partner at the time, Jim Dalawrak. Joe & Jim were assigned No. 6 at the time of the taping, a 1958 KW COE 220 with 4X3 which is pictured at Williston ND. I drove an identical one at Overwaitea, a PIX O/OP’s repo. Previous to this, during 1945 when Joe was about 17 years old he worked up the coast for Kelly Logging of Campbell River and at various camps mostly at West Redondo Island and about 1950 at the Decco-Walton-- Silver-Skagit job at Ross Lake, I believe for J W Robson. While crossing the TCH at Silver Creek en route to the log dump into the Fraser Joe started watching the highway trucks going by, the Hope-Princeton was open then and bigger rigs were going to the Interior. Joe started on the highway in the early fifties and then at PIX during 1954, this picture at Lookout Pass is probably Jim & Joe going to Winnipeg. Jim started driving after his war service, but really started before the war in the thirties, playing hookey from school and riding to Seattle with his friend Harry Elliott who drove for Sea-Van Motor Freight.
At some time during 1961 Joe bought his company tractor at the time 1961 conventional KW PIX number 9 pictured on Hastings St. near the Rollercoaster. Joe was operating this rig when the Rogers Pass opened in the fall of 1962 and PIX inaugurated their fast overnight “Stampeder Service.” Joe was a good man to maintain the schedule PIX wanted to guarantee, ‘Next morning delivery “ at either end. I
In 1962 Jim Dalawrak quit PIX to buy and operate the hotel at Bowser on Vancouver Island with his wife. During 1965 Jim returned to Vancouver to drive for his boyhood friend Pinky LePore for about 23 years. Jim was a character, one night about 30 years ago he came into the Hixon Fireplace Inn for supper. I was there as usual on a Wednesday night to eat, I also ate supper there on Friday nights for about 12 years, but it must have been a Wednesday because my good friend and former sleeper partner Walter Thiessen was there and we were sitting together. (Walter wouldn’t be there on a Friday night) The place was almost empty when Jim came in and sat down with us. Ratsack said “I don’t usually associate with leasor’s but you are both pretty good guys.” In an attempt at humour I said, Walt is a company driver too Jim same as you. (his Benson Tank Lines KW pictured ) With that he turned his chair to have his back toward me and talked with Walt the rest of the time we were there. After Vancouver-Merritt shut down in 1988 Jim semi-retired and while doing a ferry move of a P&D truck for Van-Kam, Jim passed away at the Swartz Bay terminal. After attending Jim’s funeral a group of driver’s decided we should have a re-union instead of just meeting at funerals etc., thus the start of the B C Line-Drivers Pre-65 in 1989.
Joe’s new sleeper partner was Pete Reddicopp who came to PIX from his former employer Transco Services. Pete had started at Lee’s Transport in the early fifties (Hayes picture) and after their fire during 1958 went to Transco who took over the Lee licenses. Transco was a partnership of Arrow and Mainland Transfer and a union shop. Transco decided the Lee operation was something they could live without and sold the north licences to PIX who were in an expansion mode. After a short time PIX sold the old Lee operation to Fred Loucks who eagerly took it on. Pete was sorry to leave the North run but decided to stay with the PIX union contract instead of going to Loucks. Pete replaced Jim Dalawrak as Joe’s sleeper partner and Pete and Joe got on well as a team for about two years. The Stampeder Service flew small flags on training masts on the front bumper and Joe kept them stretched out. One night at Pumptown Joe passed me but I passed him at the west end of Clearbrook where he was getting a ticket from Constable Fred Clark who didn’t delay Joe too long as he passed me again at the Langley Airport flying low. The Matsqui Police were diligent in patrolling Clearbrook with lights out late at night and we were glad to not see them after the 401 opened. The RCMP freeway patrol came into being at that time. It’s a wonder Phil Gaglardi didn’t banish them from his freeway, Flying Phil was not a big fan of the RCMP traffic people. I also made a contribution to the Matsqui coffers late one night, my only ticket at work in 44 years of driving trucks and buses. A car pulled out close in front of me at Mt. Lehman Road and I passed the car on the double solid line. At once Police lights came on beside the dark & closed service station, I thought “finally there is a cop when you want one,” and pulled over in the dip between Mt Lehman and Ross Road where the car went by me. I told Constable Clark “he is getting away” and he said you are the one I want for crossing the solid line. I said I couldn’t possibly stop and Fred said ‘If you had tried to stop he would be getting the ticket but you didn’t even try to stop so you are it”, who could argue that logic.
When a new owner-operator unit came on stream in 1964, a new conv. KW, owned by Glen Clark (no-not that Glen Clark),it had to be posted to bid among the company drivers as per the union agreement. Pete thought a change of pace would be good for him so he bid it and was the successful bidder. Pete told me about 40 years later this separation from Joe was a big mistake. He was only on the new truck about 2 weeks before his new driving partner who was westbound upset them at the spot that would later be named Kingsway Corner. Pete was sleeping and his head was pounded on the head of the bunk and he was seriously injured. Clark complained about the poor corner elevation, it was a bit flat. Pete left the highway after recovering from this mishap except for some odd trips and went into the construction business with a backhoe and dump truck. Joe bought a new Peterbilt during 1965 that is pictured with this story when new and later towing another PIX rig up the Columbia Street hill in Kamloops. Joe moved to the Crow in the seventies and operated a charter bus service in the late eighties/early nineties from his ranch in the Lundbreck/Bellevue area. Joe was assisted with B C operating authorities and permits by one of our members sons, Art Mortimer who served at the Sparwood Scale for about 30 years and just recently retired. Joe would stop and visit with Art and tell him stories about Hugh if he had time and always waved as he went by. Joe retired to OK Falls about 1998.
During 1963 Rice & Trimble, a partnership of H M Trimble and Rice Truck Lines of Great Falls Montana, sold their B C licenses to Kingsway Transports, a subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines. During the spring of 1967 a Kingsway Transport rig was westbound and collided with GLC number 250, a one year old MC-5A, the 0800 trip to Prince George from Vancouver driven by George Mayhew of Vancouver. George said the Kingsway trailer was leaning across the center line almost overturning and rubbed the roof of the bus causing him to collide with the guard wall. Kingsway’s insurance company disputed this as the trailer didn’t roll-over (250 prevented that) and overlooked the poor load in the trailer. The load consisted of a full floor to ceiling load of new empty wine bottles from Redcliff destined for a Port Moody winery. A re-run was staged with an identical load and the same tractor, a Kenworth driven by it’s owner at the same speed. The owner hadn’t been driving on the day of the incident, but thought the speed was reasonable, it maybe would have been with a base heavy load. Police blocked traffic and numerous officials were in attendance, as well as Lorne Bond on Greyhound Trip 12 the early morning trip from Vancouver to Calgary, who had a birds-eye view from south of the scene up the hill, just north of the Great Bluff, 88 miles north of Yale. Ashcroft RCMP, the local coroner and magistrate Bill Adam all stood on the east shoulder of the highway. Some by-standers told them they should be across the highway but they replied they wanted a good view. The view they got was too good in fact as they all had to run for their lives as the Kingsway rig overturned naming the curve for all time. The picture of the PIX rig and where the Kingsway rig ended up is in virtually the same spot. This story has been written and re-told many times before but hardly ever accurately, sometime the location isn’t even recognizable.
Pete passed away about ten years ago. Joe had his last ride with a son of another of our members, Dale Van Horne in 2004. Darryl Van Horne was the BC Ambulance crew chief in Oliver and took Joe from his home in OK Falls to the Penticton Hospital after Joe had a heart attack. Joe saw Darryl’s name tag and said he knew a Van Horne, Darryl asked him if he was an old trucker and when Joe said he was Darryl said, Dale is my Dad and Joe asked him to say hello to his father. Darryl called his Dad later that day and said “Joe Ellison says to say hello”. Sadly Joe didn’t get a ride home.
|First World War Mack. I drove this in 1945 along this one way road made out of timber.||This was just one of the big logs. There was a lot of these one log loads. The truck is a Mack.||This Western truck worked on the Bolder Dam in 1936. You could drive a D8 Cat into the box.|
|Kelly Logging Co. Kenworth taken in 1949|
|PIX Peterbilt cabover taken on Lookout Pass at the Montana/Idaha border||PIX #28 Jim Dalawrak at Spokane, WA|
|Three PIX Kenworths getting serviced at a Richfield service station in Williston, ND|
|A great shot of a PIX Canadian Kenworth taken in front of the PNE (Pacific National Exihibition) grounds in Vancouver, BC||Joe's brand new PIX (Pacific Inland Express) Peterbilt parked near a Peterbilt dealership in Calgary, Alberta. Joe had this Pete custom build in California and delivered to Calgary.||A pair of PIX trucks, climbing the hill above Kamloops, BC, taken about March 1965. The cabover PIX truck in the rear blew a fuel pump and Joe pulled him up the hill with his new Peterbilt|