Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Victoria" Loses Her Head

This weekend I removed the roof panel (I'll post photos later). It was actually a lot of work owing to all the pop rivets that had been drilled through the inner and out receiving brackets that hold the roof in. The rivets held some wood paneling in place, but it was removed back in November, leaving these little metal mushroom shapes all over the interior. I guess that there was about 75 rivets in all, plus a few remnants of some screws. The rivets could be drilled out pretty easy (though my arms got tired), but the screws were really hard. Alas, with the sun going down, we just managed to pop the roof off. Next, I'm going to try a number of solvents to remove the tar stuff. I also need to drill out the remaining rivets -- another 30 or so.

It was sunny this weekend and around plus 10, so I pushed Victoria outdoors and worked in the sun. It's really nice feeling the warmth of of the sun on your back. At one point I was inside the van and my leg touched the side body and it was warm. Warm steel, how wonderful! At one point I was in Harry's barn and I heard horses. I went outside and there were about 15 people on horses wearing red and blue riding jackets, obviously on a "hunt". "Have you seen our hounds?" one women said with a certain inflection to the word "hounds" which seemed kinda contrived. No, I said, thinking they're "dogs" not hounds.

Earlier in the week I received good news. Some readers of this blog will recall that the government office responsible for vehicle records refused to share with me details of Morris J Vans registered in the province in the last 30-plus years, citing privacy. Well, I appealed their decision to an appellate body and it agreed to appoint a third party as a mediator. Alas, I think it means that more information regarding past registrations of Morris J Vans in British Columbia will be forthcoming.

I also went to the phone company archives and looked though old phone books to see if I could get an idea about which Morris dealer may have sold Victoria. I did. Seems that there was only one (see photo above). I'm going to look in the city archives for photos next.

But the thing that really struck me was the preponderance of dealers in Victoria in the 1950s representing British manufacturers. Victoria, British Columbia, -- the city -- was well-known when I was a kid for being a misplaced piece of Britain on the West Coast of Canada. I'll explain this more in a post in May, including why it became a tourist destination. But what seems clear from comparing Yellow Pages ads from 1950 to 1965 is that British dealers were gradullay supplanted by ones representing American brands. This is true for the whole country in this period, and other industries too. But because Victoria was so unabashedly British to begin with, this metamorphisis seems especially dramatic.

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