I am starting to thing that Ottawa must be on the Citroën equivalent of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.
Today I had a visit from yet another traveller who is crossing Canada in a 2CV. This time, it was Robert Berg, from near Hanover in Germany.
After a life-changing experience, Robert decided to tackle his bucket list as he says “before I am too old”. One of the items on his list was to drive the entire length of the Trans-Canada Highway. In planning his trip, Robert knew that he did not want to do it the easy way. The idea of just renting a car made him think that he would wind up isolated from the experience. As a long-time 2CV owner, he decided that a Duck was the way to go.
For several years he had been resurrecting a badly rotted 2CV, eventually converting it to a pickup style body. As he describes it, he built a car around a serial number, having replaced virtually every part. The heart of the conversion was a wide-fendered pickup body kit, but then Robert added his professional skills a metal fabricator. The result is a beautifully finished and efficient vehicle. A fibreglass hardtop is seamlessly joined to the original lower windscreen frame. Doors frames were cut and lowered to match the new roof profile. The rear pickup bed portion is topped by a beautifully crafted bed cover and tailgate. The quality of the paint job is far above anything that ever left the Quai de Javel factory.
So, the barely finished car was loaded in a ship and sent to Baltimore, where Robert retrieved it. With Customs formalities complete, Robert headed north, eventually reaching Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway in St. John’s Newfoundland. 8,000 km later, Robert passed through Ottawa, and wound up on CBC local TV news. I did not see the story when it originally aired, but a friend sent me a link to the story in the CBC web page. From the short film, I grabbed the URL for Robert’s german-language blog, and managed to reach him by leaving a comment on one of his postings (specifically, the one about visiting the Diefenbunker, which was the site of one of our club outings a few years ago).
Normally, by the time I reached him, he would already have been on his way from Toronto to Sault Saint Marie and points west. However, his engine was giving him some trouble, so he had backtracked to Montréal where Michel Larouche was going to perform surgery to set things right. I guess the silver lining in that cloud was that it gave us a second chance to meet.
So, this afternoon I was delighted to see the blue 2CV pickup pulling into my driveway. Claudine and I greeted Robert, and soon Terry H was able to join us. We had a good chance to examine Robert’s car, while he explained the thinking behind the various fabricated features. Then it was time to sit down for lunch, and a pleasant conversation. We heard some of the stories that led to the trip, as well as some of the highlights of the trip so far. His strategy of using a Duck to attract people is working very well, since he is unable to stop anywhere without some engaging him in conversation. Even an early-morning coffee at Tim Hortons is unlikely to be finished in solitude!
Robert waited for an enormous thunderstorm to finish, but it was clear that he was eager to get back on the road, since the engine problems had caused him to fall behind his original schedule, still hoping to reach Calgary in time for the opening of the famous Stampede. Here are some photos of our visit:
UPDATE: Robert made it to Calgary as he hoped. Check his blog for photos and stories.
I guess the old saying is true: All dogs go to heaven, but 2CVs go everywhere else!