by Wes Hubert from Lively, ON
The canvas tent trailer was the inevitable next step for those tenting families who traveled across Canada in the 1960s. While it was an improvement in comfort over the tent, it had its drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks was moisture.
If a tent trailer was closed while wet, mould would spread on the canvas surface and rot the fabric in a surprisingly short time. Thus, a canvas tent that got wet in the night, needed to be set up and dried out sometime the next day. While not a catastrophe, this quirk was a thorn in the side of travelers in a hurry.
One summer, our friends, Bill and Irene Dunn and their three children, set off for British Columbia in their new tent trailer. To Bill, a vacation started when you arrived. He was not the sort of traveler who wandered into shops along the way or took a side trip to visit some local attraction. Needless to say, Bill loathed having to quit driving in the middle of the day to set up the tent trailer and wait for it to dry after a rainy night.
That summer, Bill and his family drove through the unending forests of Ontario and then across the prairies, camping mostly at provincial parks. They were making excellent time.
As they pulled into a pristine campground in Alberta in the late evening, Bill scanned the western sky. Ominous clouds were gathering in the distance and the prevailing westerlies were pushing them in his direction. Bill kept his eye on the advancing clouds as he and Irene set up camp, made supper on the green Coleman stove, washed up, and got the kids tucked into their sleeping bags and into the trailer. His last waking thought was the hope of rising in the morning to a non-stop driving day.
Bill’s sleeping subconscious was alert enough to register the sound of thunder. At about three o’clock in the morning, a long, low rumble sounded not far away. Not even wasting a second to look at the sky, Bill jumped out of bed. He roused his wife and children enough to shuffle them into the car and then he closed up the tent trailer in record time.
Hopping into the driver’s seat of the car, Bill was a happy man. He was on the road with a dry canvas tent trailer.
He pulled out of their camping spot, turned around the corner and then drove across the long, wood-planked bridge that led out of the park.
As his car rolled across the planks it produced a long, low rumble.
Bill looked up.
Stars were sparkling. There wasn’t a cloud in sight.
He glanced around the car. His wife was slumped against the door with her eyes closed. The children were in the back seat fast asleep.
Bill put his foot on the gas pedal and drove on.