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Julian & Leslie Slotylak

Seniors and their vintage cars


Julian Slotylak no longer has any vintage cars in his garage, but his photos and memories make for an interesting story. Julian was born October 13, 1938 in the small town of McBride, B.C. where his father was employed as a machinist with the Canadian National Railway. McBride was a very isolated community at the time with only one road out to Tete Jaune Cache and almost all supplies had to be imported by rail.

It was a great place for a boy to grow up, however, as it was surrounded by wilderness, and Julian learned to snare rabbits and make some pocket money selling their pelts.

When Julian was 12 years of age, his father was transferred to Kamloops and they moved into a house at 224 Seymour Street. He attended Stuart Wood School, then high school at Alan Mathews, then up to the new Kamloops High School when it opened on Munro Street. Looking for a part-time job, he heard that the Safeway store on Victoria Street was looking for a cashier and he was told to come down for an interview. The manager was surprised to see him as with the name “Julian” he was expecting a female, but Jules was put to work sorting strawberries.

After graduating from high school, he stayed on at Safeway and was then sent to Prince George as the produce manager in the store there. Eventually he was promoted to assistant manager at the Quesnel store, and then back to Prince George. At the time, the Trail store was losing money and Jules was promised a promotion to manager of the Kamloops store if he could earn a profit after a year in Trail. At 22 years of age, Jules took on the challenge and was made the youngest manager in the whole Canadian Safeway chain. As the result of a lot of hard work, the Trail store made a profit that year and Jules was transferred back to Kamloops. The Trail experience was also memorable, as that is where he met his future wife, Leslie, when she used to come into the store to buy watermelons. They were married in Fruitvale in 1965.

Julian started off his car ownership in style as his first car was a brand-new 1958 Meteor 2-door hardtop. This car was traded in a few years later on a slightly used 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire convertible which was a very rare American model. Both of these cars would be very desirable today.

Julian continued his 27-year career with Safeway, opening the new Sahali store and staying as manager until his retirement. He then went on to his second career as Superintendant of Maintenance for the Kamloops School District for another 20 years. Leslie was originally in the banking business but quit to raise their two sons and was kept busy restoring their heritage house and volunteering with the hospital auxiliary, taking photos of the newborns and making purses and other items for the thrift store.

The vintage car bug bit Julian when he was working at the Sahali Safeway store where he liked what he saw when our local chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada (VCCC) held a car show there. He started looking for an old car and located a 1938 Oldsmobile in the Cherry Creek area where he purchased for $300 and his son, Darren, purchased a Triumph Spitfire from the same location. Julian joined the VCCC in 1987 and, along with the Reading Brothers Restoration Shop in Tappen, began the restoration of the ’38 Olds. During this time, Leslie and Julian decided they needed a garage for the car and managed to redesign their small back yard to accommodate the single-car garage. With Julian refurbishing the small parts in his new garage and the Reading Brothers working on the body and chassis, the Olds was eventually restored to show quality.

As with a lot of vintage cars, the find is part of the challenge, and with Julian’s next vintage car, this story is one of the best. Don Coulter, one of our local members at the time, owned a Cadillac LaSalle and was touring with it in Washingon state near Spokane. They had stopped at a rest stop and a local person approached them, admiring their car and telling them that he knew where there were some more just like it. Don could hardly get to the location fast enough and arrived to find an old recluse living on a dilapidated farm, and out behind the barns were three Cadillac LaSalles (1939 and 1940 coupes and a 1940 convertible) in original “barn-find” condition. Don was able to purchase all three cars and bring them back to B.C. and eventually sold the ’39 coupe to Julian. Jules did not have room for both the Olds and the LaSalle so the Olds was sold to a collector in Holland. The restoration of the LaSalle was then begun, with the Reading Brothers again taking on the job and once completed, was spectacular.

Over the years, Jules has been very active with the VCCC, having stints as Governor, Membership Chairman, Tour Director and served for several years on the Hot Nite in the City committee. About 15 years ago, Julian had a major operation which left him with mobility problems and was no longer able to drive the LaSalle and it was sold to a gent in Edmonton. Jules has not been idle, however, and another one of his passions is collectibles and over the years he has amassed very comprehensive collections of blowtorches, gas pumps, oil cans, garage clocks, National Park buffaloes, and old signs. Refurbishment of these collectibles has kept him active and involved.

Julian has enjoyed his association with vintage cars and like-minded people and he continues to participate, despite his mobility issues.