Leaving home at 4 am to join the Convoy
Mark rescues old trucks. These days he owns 30 of them, the oldest being a green 1936 Maple Leaf, one of the earliest heavy duty pickups sold in Canada. “I get most of them outta California,” he says. “You start with no rust, so they’re a lot easier to restore.”
A commercial fisherman in Nova Scotia for 40 years, in the summer of 2023 he tells me scallops are doing well. Lobsters are another story. Market prices are “always up and down, they’re yo-yos. You never know.”
Back in January 2022, an Ontario friend told Mark he was heading to Ottawa to take part in the trucker protest scheduled for that weekend. Did Mark want to come?
“So I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come up and support it.'” His expectations were modest, he remembers. He wasn’t anticipating anything especially large or memorable.
“Well, what am I gonna use for a truck? Cuz it was the wintertime and I don’t drive any of these in the winter. So I had that old Kenworth, an old C500, that I use in the winter, it’s really heavy duty. But it has no bunk, so the guys in the shop got it in, and they took the passenger seat out, and I got a piece of plywood and a mattress so I could put it across the other seat, and I made a bed in there.”
Mark had just turned 60, and is 5-feet-11-inches tall. That bed wasn’t overly comfortable, but he slept there for two weeks, before moving into an Ottawa hotel room with his Ontario buddy.
It was four in the morning when he left home in order to join up with the arm of the Freedom Convoy that was departing from Enfield, near the Halifax airport. His wife accompanied him on that first leg of the journey, in a separate vehicle.
“I didn’t have any idea what I was in for,” remembers Mark, I put two fish boxes on the back, a generator on the back, all my tools on the back. I’ve got a big chunk of cement that I put in some of these trucks here just to make the ride smooth. So we got that on the back, on the fifth wheel – it clicks right in.”
A large steel box – coffin-shaped and filled with additional concrete for traction – was also loaded on. Plus extra batteries and a train horn. “We installed a big train horn, a real train horn off a train, on that truck,” says Mark. “And it was loud. Loud, you wouldn’t believe.”
The cab of that white, 1991 Kenworth bore slogans such ‘Freedom over force’ and ‘Mandates don’t deliver, truckers do!’
Also attached were two large, hard-to-miss flags: the province of Nova Scotia’s flag, and one with a black background that insults the Prime Minister in just two words.
Story continues tomorrow
Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at ThankYouTruckers.substack.com. It is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.