Story submitted by Dick Parkes. Photos by Dave Dickinson, the Editor of the local chapter newsletter, The Kamshaft
Vintage Car Club of Canada, Kamloops Chapter
Although not nearly the oldest member of our local chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada (VCCC), Jerry Wallin does own the oldest car in town—a 1911 McLaughlin touring.
Jerry is basically another prairie boy, growing up in the small town of Torquay, Saskatchewan (population 255) where his father was the manager of the local grain elevator. This elevator was almost his demise when as a twelve-year-old, he and a friend climbed inside and Jerry was sucked down into the grain as it was augering out the bottom. His friend managed to climb out and alert Jerry’s father who shut off the auger and by the time they got to Jerry, he was buried up to his neck. This story could easily have ended right there but, luckily, they managed to get him out and he never played in grain elevators again after that.
School, especially spelling, was not Jerry’s forté and when in grade 8, his dad suggested that maybe he should quit and get a job, so that’s what he did. He began pumping gas at a service station.
Jerry can be described as a jack-of-all-trades with a varied list of careers over his lifetime. After the service station he worked as a farm hand for a full summer, making a total of $350, and then spent $300 of it on his first car—a 1947 Plymouth coupe. From farm work he went to Estevan for two years, helping to build mobile homes where he learned his carpentry skills. Once laid off there, he drove his ’58 VW Beetle to Thompson, Manitoba where he worked underground, mining nickel for eight years. Then it was off to Saskatoon Potash Mines for two years and this is where he met Vicky in 1968 and they were married there in 1970. Penticton was their next stop with Jerry building houses. When things slowed down there, they moved to Kamloops, building more houses in the Westmount and Westsyde areas. They designed and built their own home in Westsyde in 1973 and they are still living in this gorgeous house today. Vicky has been through many career moves as well, working as a bookkeeper, payroll clerk and her final and favourite job as a secretary with the School District #73.
Over the years Jerry has owned many different vehicles including a 1973 Meteor, a 1948 Dodge and a VW bus, but his interest in vintage vehicles was sparked in December 1990 by a chance encounter with a 1911 McLaughlin touring car that was undergoing restoration in a local body shop. The owner, Ed Shaw, who recently passed away, was a charter member of our club and was just finishing up the car and had it consigned to sell at an auction in Arizona. Jerry fell in love with it at first sight and when Ed told him that it was for sale, the deal was done. This car is not only the oldest car in town, it is the oldest McLaughlin registered in the VCCC so it is a very rare and special Canadian-built vehicle. It also has an interesting local history as it was purchased new by an Isaac Leeman from the Hat Creek area and was the first car in Ashcroft. Many years later Mr. Leeman was going to chop the car up and use the engine as a water pump, but Charlie Bond of Clearwater, didn’t want this to happen so he traded a water pump for the car and owned it for 57 years until it was purchased by Shaw.
Jerry has had lots of niggling little issues with the McLaughlin since acquiring it, trying to keep it running regularly. Parts, obviously, are very rare if not impossible to find and he has had to have several items handmade. A major setback occurred when it was stored for the winter at the White Post Museum in Tappen. The radiator didn’t get drained and the engine block froze and cracked. With the help of fellow Club member, John Bone, Jerry had to repair and rebuild the entire engine but that has now been accomplished and it is back in running condition again.
Once Jerry acquired the McLaughlin, he was introduced to the VCCC and has been a very active member for the last 28 years, with a stint as Property Director and being involved with Club restoration projects of a 1930 Model A Ford, our 1945 Ford wrecker and 1952 Austin ambulance.
Jerry’s woodworking skills were especially appreciated during the Austin restoration as most of the body is wood-framed. Jerry is also very involved with our catering whenever our cook trailer is out and about serving up our famous pancake breakfasts.
Of course, once you have been bitten by the vintage car bug, you can’t just have one vehicle and Jerry has had a couple of Model T Fords, a 1970 GMC stepside (his first construction truck), a 1945 Chevrolet fire truck, a 1946 Ford two-ton truck and is currently finishing up the total restoration of a 1947 Ford two-ton flatdeck truck. The Wallins can be seen at many local events driving around in their mint condition 1964 Meteor convertible, which they purchased locally from the original owner a few years ago. Vicky also now has her own vintage car, a 1962 Mercury Monterey 4-door sedan that was purchased brand new by her father in Moose Jaw and she has the original bill of sale listing the purchase price, with options, of $3,800. This car has never been restored and is in absolutely original condition. A rare find indeed!
Jerry also has other interests including a membership in the Shuswap Pioneers Collector Club where he regularly exhibits his 1922 wooden International threshing machine in working condition. Not many people have one of these in their collection!
We are happy to have highlighted the Wallins and their contributions to the vintage car hobby.
A little bit of McLaughlin history: Around the turn of the previous century, Sam McLaughlin was Canada’s premier carriage maker and as the automobile was beginning to replace the horse and buggy, Sam’s two sons persuaded him to start building cars. The first McLaughlin cars were built in 1908, using Buick engines in bodies built entirely in Canada and became this country’s most popular Canadian-built car. Mclaughlin eventually merged with General Motors of Canada, becoming McLaughlin Buick, and were built exclusively in Canada until World War II shut down production in 1942.