Trucking, a multi-generational affair



Martin Warner, with “Cream Puff”, and their third place Bobtail Tractor award at Shell Super Rigs in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Martin Warner

The Neepawa Banner

With 15 years of trucking under my belt, spanning all of the continental United States and coast to coast in Canada, I wouldn’t consider myself a rookie. Nor do I consider myself a veteran of the highway. The fascination with trucks and the highway came from my grandfather, a driver of 47 years who was by definition a Professional Driver of the highest order. I remember being very young riding with him from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg, hauling resin to Palliser Furniture in a Freightliner cabover and a set of Krohnert super B tankers. Over the many summers, I enjoyed our time together as we travelled back and forth across northern Ontario. I remember the courtesy and respect that drivers showed to each other, this is slowly fading, however a few of us still try to keep the values taught to us by the previous generation.

He was retired when I started to drive for Jade Transport, he came out to visit and have a look around. He always said he was proud of me and told me to do whatever made me happy. Over the years I moved around a bit living in Toronto, Thunder Bay, and even a short stint in Alberta, but my heart was always in Manitoba with the shiny green trucks. We found our way to the Neepawa area and have been settled here for almost five years now and love it.

Having trucked in or through Manitoba for most of my career, I am very familiar with the impact the industry has on the economy and people of Manitoba. Working for a small family-owned operation based in Winnipeg since 2001, I have had the opportunity to see and work with a lot of people and industries in rural Manitoba.

I worked as an over the road (OTR) truck driver for many years and was surprised as to how many different commodities are used in Manitoba. Having hauled products from the Southern United States back into Manitoba, it makes one appreciate the breadth of Manitoba’s different industries and its impact on the Canadian economy.

Locally, in the Westman region, I get to see just how dependant we are on trucks. Almost everything we purchase, consume, or produce moves by truck at some point. To say that rural Manitoba relies heavily on trucks would be an understatement. The Manitoba Trucking Association states that 95 per cent of goods in Manitoba travel by truck, with rural Manitoba being closer to 100 per cent. Sitting on the side of the road in any Manitoba community, it will not take one long to come to the realization that our communities move by truck.

Trucking in Manitoba takes on many forms. Most common in the Westman region would be trucking in agricultural products of livestock, crops, and machinery. Manitoba also boasts a large agricultural manufacturing industry, with some based here in Westman.

Those companies rely on a number of Manitoba based carriers to move their products to customers throughout North America. Infrastructure repairs and maintenance also make up a large portion of the trucks seen in and around the region, whether it’s new paving or gravel trucks hauling for construction projects.

Being in the centre of Canada, Manitoba gets to see all of the cross Canadian truck traffic, making Highways #1 and #16 extremely important commercial corridors. Manitoba is also home to approximately 475 for hire carriers (according to MTA stats) which makes it a major player in the transportation industry in Canada and the United States. Many of Manitoba’s industries are export based and thus need to be carted south to their final destinations. Around 80 per cent of those goods are transported south on trucks. The MTA estimates that 400,000 trucks cross Manitoba’s border with the U.S every year.

Trucking in Manitoba is a mainstay to the economy providing jobs not only as drivers but as mechanics, salesmen, as well as warehouse workers and other logistical positions. It’s estimated that for every 10 jobs created within the trucking industry, 7 more are created elsewhere.

Ranging from scorching heat in the summer months, to paralyzing cold of the winter and road closures that last days at a time, not to mention the world famous winter roads program. Climate and road conditions add another challenge to trucking in Manitoba. Manitoba is one of the few places where one can cover the extremes of both ends of the climate scale, both present their own special challenges to the industry. Truck drivers in Manitoba are known to be a hearty bunch, being able to deal with the conditions presented to them often by surprise or with little notice.

The Manitoba Trucking community has had a large impact through out North America from its innovations by our large fleet carriers that have help shaped trucking as we know it today, to our internationally recognized show trucks from multiple carriers based inside Manitoba that have set trends and developed their own style throughout the years. Manitoba has always been a leader in the trucking industry constantly shaped the people it employs and the practices developed.