November-December 2020 –
My name is Joe Sinclair, and I was born in a small town in Southern Alberta, known for its beautiful coulees and the highlevel train bridge. Lethbridge was a small town in 1985 and home to lots of farmers and truck drivers. Naturally, like most southern Alberta boys, some of my earliest memories are of trucks. If I wasn’t playing trucks (or ghostbusters) with my friends, I was off with my dad “truckin”.
I remember my dads’ 1989 VolvoWhite GMC. I must have only been around 4, but I idolized that truck, and it’s still a fond memory for me to this day. It was one of a kind with a custom mural and yellow paint job. I would sit in that passenger seat, and any worry that I had would slip away. One trip, in particular, I travelled with my Dad to Boise, Idaho. Probably one of the first times I ever left Canada. I’ll never forget the scenery, the smell or the feeling I had. I realized that your view of the world sure changes when you’re sitting in the seat of a truck. That was when I knew truck driving was definitely going to be part of my future.
I was about 6 when my dad left, and that was the last time as a child, I sat in a truck. Life was pretty difficult for my mom and me. I quit school in grade 10 to work full time on the oil rigs, where I helped construct oil processing facilities and maintained pipelines. After that, I did odd jobs in construction; Stucco, framing, siding, you name it. All the while, never forgetting those trucker days.
When I turned 18, a good, older friend approached me and asked if I would run doubles with him. I quickly accepted and got my learners. I was officially back on the road, and this time, I could drive! Dennis taught me a lot, and I treasure those days together. We drove a 1999 Peterbilt and hauled cattle from Alberta to Colorado. When we weren’t hauling cows, we hauled various cargo on a super B flat deck all over western Canada and the United States. During that time, I wrote my class 1, and was officially a truck driver! All good things must come to an end, and after two years of running doubles, we decided to part ways, and I started a new chapter in my life, not truck driving.
In the spring of 2005, I was invited to a friend’s BBQ. I didn’t want to go, it hadn’t been a great week, but my buddy insisted. Now, here is where things turn a little mushy – I walked into that back yard and instantly locked eyes with a pretty redhead. I never thought I’d stand a chance but went for it anyway. Now I’m proud to say Melissa is my wife. It didn’t take us long to move in together, she finished up school, and I got a job working as a service tech for a mobile home company. I did warranty work and helped set up and take apart homes ready for transport. I had never dealt with mobile homes before, and I never thought it would become my career. I worked for this company for two years, and I decided to start my own business, strictly setting up mobile homes. I did this for a long time, even had my father in law work for me – which I enjoyed immensely.
In the summer of 2008, our daughter Emma was born, I was incredibly happy, but life was not being kind to us. I was always away working, and it was a fight to get paid most of the time. Never forgetting my truck driving dream, in 2009, I decided to buy whatever truck I could afford and haul mobiles instead. I ended up buying a blue and white 1984 Western Star – it wasn’t much, but it did its job. However, due to the restrictions and insurance premiums at the time, the cost to insure the truck was more than I could afford, and my dream quickly sank. Plus, we got the news that our second child was soon to be born. At this point, though, I was tired of living in southern Alberta. I was tired of Alberta all together and knew I had to get out.
As a child, I regularly visited my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Kelowna. I loved the city and the way of life and thought it would be the perfect fresh start for my family and me. After much convincing and Melissa 7 months pregnant, we moved to the beautiful Okanagan and started a new life in Kelowna. In January of 2010, my son, Charlie, was born, and our little family was complete. Also, this was the year I FINALLY (in my wife’s words) proposed, and we got married a year later in 2011.
2011 should have been a wonderful year for us. However, three months before our wedding, my father in law, Terry unexpectedly passed away. Melissa wanted to go ahead with the wedding; she knew that it was the right thing to do, and fortunately, we did. Because the day after, my beautiful mother, the woman who worked her whole life to give me the best, passed away from a heart attack. Both our parents passed away in their fifties, so it was a huge shock for us both.
I continued to set up homes, the truck driver dream seemed a distant memory, and I never thought I’d get there again. I worked away a lot, but the pay this time made it better. One of the best experiences setting up homes was a contract I secured working in the community of Klemtu. It was a 27-hour ferry ride from Port Hardy along the inside passage on Swindle Island. I didn’t do so well when the 30ft swells would hit the ferry. Open ocean water isn’t very forgiving, and neither was my stomach. I did this for six weeks, working two weeks and going home for one. It was tough, but my wife and I supported each other. Luckily, we are both strong people, with a passion for hard work and dedicated to being self-employed. My wife went with her passion and started a wedding planning company – which she still has today. That reality hit me, and I thought, my passion is trucking, and that’s what I’m going to do.
In 2012, I bought a 1996 Freightliner FLD, which I still have to this day. She isn’t being driven now, but I have no desire to let her go (however, I tell my wife otherwise). This truck and I share many stories, one of which is probably one of my scariest moments to date. In the winter of 2013, I hauled a single-wide home to Castlegar. Of course, the site was up a massive mountainside with an incline of 12 percent. The weather wasn’t terrible out, but it was cold, and the melting snow had become ice. I’m trucking along, when all of a sudden, the truck lost traction, and I started spinning out. There I was, sliding backwards down this hill with a 66-foot pre-fab house. I was so scared I sucked foam out the seat! I pumped the breaks repeatedly and did all I could to keep from jackknifing. Luckily for me, after sliding a few hundred feet, we finally came to a stop. No one was hurt, and the load was unscathed. But I learned a valuable lesson. Now, whenever there is a steep incline and snow is around, the chains come out.
Life was going well. I was trucking all over BC hauling mobile homes from site to site for various dealerships and private homeowners. Melissa’s business was also flourishing, and together we supported each other through the ups and downs of business life. I was at the point where I needed someone to help me. Melissa’s younger brother Derek decided to move to Kelowna and live with us, so it was a no brainer that he come and work for me. He trucked along with me, assisting with loading and unloading and helped with any setup jobs I took on, which involved blocking and levelling homes too. I loved it. I loved my bother in law and took him under my wing. I didn’t grow up with siblings (I had halfbrothers who I didn’t see often), so he was like the little brother I never had. In the fall of 2015, Derek decided to move back to Lethbridge. We were heartbroken, but I knew I had to look for his replacement.
A guy I knew who worked at one of the factories told me about his daughters’ boyfriend, Reilly. He needed a job, so I gave him a shot. This kid is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. He shows up every day with the biggest smile on his face, and he quickly turned into my friend and, truth be told (as my wife says) another little brother. I decided to expand and buy my first pilot truck, and Reilly was the driver. My company got busier and busier, and I decided to buy another truck. In 2016, Melissa and I financed a 2000 International 9400. We also decided to find someone to drive my trusty old Freightliner. Reilly knew just the guy, a friend of his from Manitoba, who had truck driving experience. Alan made the move and joined our little “truckin” family.
In our travels, we met many others in our industry. Friendships blossomed, some stayed, some withered over the years. One incident occurred, that someone called the DOT on us, saying we didn’t have proper permits. As we were loading, the DOT showed up to inspect us and went over everything, including paperwork. Of course, we were legal and passed their inspection. The one DOT officer was blown away with my truck and trailer and my knowledge of loads and regulations. He found out we were waiting for another pilot car and told us to cancel it. He wanted to escort us. That was probably one of the coolest things – to have the red and blue lights escort us from Penticton to Kelowna. The Okanagan DOT are some of the best I’ve ever worked with, they’re just awesome people, and I appreciate the support I still receive from them.
Another friendship I made was the brother duo – Adam and Jesse Dekker. They, too, were a truck and pilot car team; they grew up with a trucking dad and have a love for it just like me. We worked together closely, hiring each other to help on jobs and grew into an awesome team. In 2019, they asked if we would like to buy them out, and we could officially be a united team under one name. Melissa and I talked and decided to take them up on their offer. So, in October of 2019, we start another journey together, Bluenose Mountain Transport ltd.
In just a short time, we expanded greatly. I wanted to focus mainly on truck driving, so Melissa being the organized person she is, took over doing payroll, organizing jobs and workflow. She also implemented our transport forms and other such paperwork. Jesse became our operations manager and works closely with Melissa and me to organize work. He also operates one of our pilot trucks. Adam, an avid trucker, stayed on as a truck driver and is one of the best I know. Reilly and Alan both joined us on our bluenose journey. Alan as a pilot driver and trucker (he’s great at doing both). Reilly continues to pilot as well as mostly my pilot. Melissa’s niece, Katie, also helps out with office work and filing. Melissa still operates her wedding business, so in the summer months, she really appreciates the extra hand.
Bluenose owns quite a few trucks, more than my wife wants. We have my 2000 International 9400, the 1996 Freightliner I mentioned above, we also have a 1990 Mack and a 1999 MACK. Both are up for sale, and Melissa would love it if you bought one. We purchased a 2006 International for Adam, which he’s called Arlo. He takes good care of her. We also purchased two 2019 Ford F150s for pilot trucks because our boys work hard, and we wanted to make sure they had a decent truck to work in. We also have a 2006 Nissan, but it’s seen better days. And just recently, we purchased the newest truck I’ve ever owned.
We’re pretty proud of this one, and it’s been a long time coming. It’s not brand new, but we love it either way, plus it has AC. You have seen the pictures of it, our beautiful 2016 International 9900i Eagle. Or, as some call it, the “Canadian Peterbilt.” It’s powered by a Cummins ISX 15 550 HP paired with an 18-speed transmission, has 46K rears and a 234 wheelbase. It’s rigged to haul mobile homes with a 30-ton hydraulic winch. It also has aluminum expandable mirrors that go 25ft wide. It boasts a custom gin pole with a secondary hydraulic winch. We named it Gargamel – it was a team decision.
Melissa and I love our team and wouldn’t trade our boys for anything. They’ve become family. I don’t regret anything in my 35 years of life, and I hope I never do. I love my family, my job, my team, and I’m pretty proud of my life so far. I look forward to the years ahead. Let’s take ’er wide, boys!