Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle

Fall/Winter 2017

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine

Issue link: http://read.dreamscapes.ca/i/889690

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Page 43 of 63

D oolittle had a passion for automo- biles and believed in the need for a national highway across Canada as an alternative to the rail system, which in the first part of the 20 th century only con- nected major cities. Just as we have the Fathers of Confederation, who came together to create the country, Doolittle's passion, vision and pioneering spirit earned him the title of the Father of the Trans- Canada Highway. A MONUMENTAL JOURNEY Doolittle was a real pioneer. On September 8, 1925, he backed the rear tires of a Model T the Ford Motor Company provided him into the Atlantic Ocean at Lower Economy, Nova Scotia, and set out on a 7,700-kilo- metre drive to Vancouver, where he wet his tires in the Pacific Ocean. That symbolic wetting of tires established a standard for all who came after him on a transconti- nental quest, whether they're running, walking or rolling wheelchairs. The difference is that when Doolittle set out he had very few roads at his disposal. The few that existed were disconnected dirt patches scattered across the national land- scape. A grainy video compiled from film taken of his trek shows a raw, unbroken wilderness. In some places he sped along a single lane cut through a forest with workers still shovelling dirt onto the path. Other places had nothing but fallen trees on a rocky ridge to provide an indication of the way west. By the time Doolittle hit the Prairies just enough snow had swept in to turn what passed for roads into axle-sinking muddy ruts that he plied through. The images are so stark you can feel the cold. The real blessing on his quest were the places with no roads, paths or cuts, just rail- ways. For those, the tires on his car were changed to flanged wheels that allowed him to smoothly motor along the railway tracks. He rode the rails for 1,404 kilometres of his passage to the Pacific. Put together, that would equal the distance between Ottawa and Halifax or Lloydminster and Vancouver. Through all this Doolittle is shown wearing a suit, high-collared shirt, tie and bowler hat. A few places, like Calgary and Winnipeg, had pavement, which must have BY ALLAN LYNCH CANADIANS HAVE THE ABILITY TO DRIVE COAST TO COAST BECAUSE OF PERRY E. DOOLITTLE. Dr. Doolittle and Our OPEN ROAD DREAMSCAPES FALL/ WINTER 2017 44

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