Bringing the Beatrice home

In 1984, shortly after my father retired, my parents ordered a Volkswagen Westfalia camper van from the factory in Germany. They traveled from their home in Vancouver, BC to Germany via Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, through China, across the USSR on the Trans Siberian railway, and into Europe! After picking up their brand new van in Germany and outfitting it with dishes, bedding and other basic necessities, they lived in it for a year and a half as they traveled around Europe and the Middle East.

Clearly, I came by my wanderlust honestly!

When Mom and Dad finally decided that it was time to return to Canada, they had the van shipped home to Vancouver. Because they’d owned it for over a year, they were able to bring it into the country duty free.

For almost two decades, the blue camper van traveled through the mountains almost every year bringing Grandma and Grandpa to Alberta to visit their grandchildren. It continued to be their only vehicle until Dad, now 93, finally gave up driving a few years ago. At that point, he passed it on to our niece who was a college student at the time. She drove it until she graduated from college, but once she got a job she bought a little car and the van sat under a tarp in my sister’s backyard in Vegreville for the past two years.


This summer, our son, who also lives in Vancouver, acquired the van from his cousin. Matt plans to use it as a camping vehicle for his young family. Prior to their visit to Alberta last month, we rented a U-Haul auto hauler and moved it to Sedgewick.


Matt knew that after sitting unused for so long, the vehicle would need some work to make it roadworthy and he came prepared.


When he knew that the van was going to be his, he joined, an online site for Volkswagen owners and checked out other informational sites. In addition to learning important information including the common quirks of the vehicle and where to access parts, he discovered that owners of these vintage vans often give them names in the same manner that boat owners name their crafts. I was touched when he chose to name his Beatrice after my late mother!

Sadly, though he had hoped to drive her home to Vancouver, the Beatrice needed more work than Matt was able to accomplish in the few short days that he was at our place. That’s when Plan B came into being and here we are in Vancouver! We loaded the van onto another auto hauler and pulled her through the mountains. Now she’s tucked into a corner of Matt’s backyard where he can work on her as he has time. This has also afforded us another opportunity to visit Dad before winter sets in as well as a few unexpected days with our grandsons!


In addition to bringing the Beatrice home to the coast, we brought our 17 foot Coleman canoe for Matt, Robin and the boys to enjoy. It’s an extremely durable, very stable family canoe, but bigger and heavier than Richard and I want to haul around anymore. As I paddled it through some fairly rough ocean waves at Porteau Cove on the Sea to Sky highway yesterday afternoon, I knew my paddling days weren’t over though. A couple of waves crashed over the bow and left me soaking wet, but it was a blast and a lightweight kayak is definitely on my wish list!


7 thoughts on “Bringing the Beatrice home

    • Matt is as excited as a little boy at Christmas about having the van and fixing it up. Part of that is the fact that it was his Grandma and Grandpa’s and now he gets to share it with his own boys.

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