Exploration, adventure and community are among the most important aspects of living in the North. For many Yukoners, it was the “want” to explore a fantasized part of the world and to seek adventure in discovering Canada’s North, but it was the sense of community that made people want to stay.
Like many non-Indigenous, Sid Van der Meer sought to venture North—only to soon settle down and raise his Indigenous children. It was mentioned in previous stories of Sid that he took his family to Alberta and eventually returned to the Yukon to live his later years. For Sid, Alberta’s automotive industry was thriving, as well as car-hobbyist groups. This was a different kind of allure for Sid. He found the growing interest in vehicles in the South to be of great importance. This was also the area where he first learned how to become a mechanic, after his family arrived from the Netherlands in 1951.
When Sid moved his family south, it was a torn decision knowing there were more job opportunities for him but that his children would ultimately be raised in the predominantly non-Indigenous community of Warner, Alberta. The children soon grew to become young adults, and Sid had made sure his children (particularly his sons) would know how to fix a car. When asked if they could have a vehicle, Sid took his sons to his friend’s large junkyard where they had their pick from over 150 parts cars. He said to them, “if you can fix it, you can drive it.” And thus began an incredible journey of learning and self-reliance.
But the beauty and wonder of the Yukon drew the entire family back where they still reside today. During the winter months, Sid headed south, as a typical snowbird would. But in recent years Sid has been returning to Alberta to visit with old friends and attend his favourite swap-meet in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The swap-meet has grown from a small community event to one of Alberta’s largest and longest-running swap-meets. Here you will find hundreds of vendors offering car parts, memorabilia, artwork, antiques and anything and everything related to the automotive industry. You will be immersed into the crowd of thousands, all trying to find a diamond in the rough … men wandering around the aisles with a sign around their neck, or a t-shirt with an image, seeking a particular vehicle to purchase.
At this particular swap-meet there was a vehicle showroom, and, unlike a show and shine, all of these vehicles were for sale. While we wandered, admiring the vehicles, we came across another “northern,” Joe McBryan of Buffalo Air.
Dozens of older men would approach Sid and reminisce about the time he lived in Alberta and the decades worth of vehicles Sid had rebuilt. In the showroom, Sid got the “shopping bug” and eyed a green convertible Triumph TR7. The family knew Sid would not be fully satisfied with this vehicle and quickly drew his mind to another … but that story is soon to come.
Bordertown Garage and Museum is now open!