1968 Ford Econoline

1968  Lucien Barbeau buys his first van. His objective is to use this vehicle for his business: being travelling salesman, he mainly sells paint for industrial application and represents a few other product lines, among them snowmobile sleighs. He hopes to use the van to carry the sleighs. Even if he lives on the south shore of Quebec city, he buys his vehicle far from home at a car dealership in Richmond in the Eastern Townships, his work territory being the centre of Quebec.

1969 Autumn, Lucien and Helen travel to California with the Econoline, their first long distance trip. Lucien has only installed a bed at the back underneath which he stores luggage. This trip is carried out with a cooler and a portable camping heater. Being a handyman, when back home he installs a refrigerator and a permanent heater. It is in California that he notices the presence of vans fitted with higher tops and that he develops a serious interest for such conversions.

1970 October, Lucien and Helene visit Mexico for the first time with their van. Winter before this trip Lucien has completely insulated and entirely completed the van’s interior which now features a counter with sink in addition to the refrigerator, heater and bed.

Anecdotes :

The lounge chair. Summer 69 the van has not yet been converted. A picture allows us to see the walls that are not insulated and Lucien’s children, Nathalie and Louise, are sitting on a garden lounge chair when the family uses the van. It was before the introduction of safety campaigns for children in cars!  by Nathalie Barbeau 2018

The Sony TV. Again in 69, during his trip to California, Lucien buys an ultra-modern miniature Sony television set! This tv will be THE one for the family for many years. In 2012 as I was visiting the Pompidou Museum in Paris I recognized this celebrated tv on one of the pictures of an exhibit about hippies and their vans in the early 70s. by Nathalie Barbeau 2018

1970 October Crisis context. As Lucien and Helen arrive at customs to enter Mexico, a “Wanted” poster is prominently displayed: the FLQ leader Paul Rose is actively sought out. Lucien and Helene had only seen such posters in western style movies prior to this moment. It was a jaw dropping experience in that context.

Ah Winter! Lucien performs most of the work on his van outdoors. Dressed warmly for winter, he shuffles continuously in and out of the house, up and down the basement stairs. Being Lucien’s daughter I remember him coming in and out wearing a full ski-doo suit on top of which he wears a “Canadian” coat. , He wears his glasses down his nose so that he can see, as they are endlessly getting frosted, coming in from the cold. When snow melts in the spring, the backyard shows proof of his work, as a lot of debris have been scattered all over the yard, by the snowblower of the local snow removal contractor. by Nathalie Barbeau 2018

A women at the wheel of a truck! Lucien mentions that Helene would drive the van, and that she was stared at by people, as women rarely drove trucks in those days.

Campeurs camionnettes Camper vans