|Oral history of Stovebolt Quests, Journeys, Treasures and Dragons|
Finding the Secret Burial Grounds of old iron
Searching for Old Bolt Heaven
By Richard R0sielle
In the spirit of the Knights of Stovebolt, not only does Richard "Truck 26" R0sielle have a fun story to tell but he also provides some good information that may be helpful. And he's willing to help out fellow Bolter on their quest for trucks, parts and other cool stuff!
Like UFO’s or Bigfoot and Nessie, I had my own version of the impossible and hard-to-believe phenomenon.
You all know those stories about things or places like that. A witness that has seen one, been there and the blurred picture that could be anything. I had a mystery like that for more than four years.
When I moved from Holland to a farm in Canada, I bought my first pickup truck, which was also my first eight-cylinder engine. Yes, in Europe we are cylinder-handicapped. The first time I met my neighbour, I started talking about those nice old pickup’s we only knew from the movies and soon enough, the myth surfaced....
” You should go over to Gary’s Yard," he said. " He has lots of old vehicles. It must be at least a quarter section full.”
Now he had my attention! Unfortunately, he didn’t know exactly where Gary’s place was. (editor's note: Of course he didn't. They never do!)
”Somewhere north east of Foremost” he said.
With that in mind, every time I had to go that direction, I started looking for it. No success. In Holland, five miles is a distance. In Canada (around here) that might just be to the neighbour’s house. So maybe the size of the area I should search had to be bigger.
So when I was in town for new tires, I asked at the local garage. “O yeah. Gary’s Yard,” said Dave, the owner. “It’s huge. To get there you have to go through the coulee north of town and then turn east.” Yeah right! That’s the area I knew it was in, but there are almost no farms there -- barely gravel roads.
Every now and then I would hear again about Gary’s Yard. Still no one could tell me where it was or give me directions to it. I was beginning to think that it was the local hoax -- just to keep the newbie’s looking. I found a Les Foeller’s yard. That’s only nice when you like Cadillac’s. He has some 70 - 80 of them in the yard and some real nice ones hidden in the shop and some other buildings. He has some Chevy’s, too (got ‘em posted on my website).
Even after a few years when I had made some new friends, nobody could tell me what road to take or where to turn, but everybody had heard of Gary’s Yard. It seems they all had been there but they weren’t driving themselves so they weren’t too sure how and where. Or they came from the other direction and got lost driving back to Foremost. They had always an excuse not to know how to get there. Ok, I’m the new guy and you can hear it as soon as I open my mouth. But come on -- after four years, we’ve worked together, helped each other. But Gary’s Yard was like Area 51 -- it’s there, but no one knows or dares to talk about it.
Then I found my ’26 Chev and now I needed to get to Gary’s Yard to get some essential parts for my truck. I spent a day asking in town for his address, his last name, his post address and anything I could think of. I checked the Post office. Yes, he has a post box there. I tried the Liquor store and just any place where they might know him. Just his last name would do. I could look up his phone number, phone him and he could tell me how he drove home. It was something like Lysine, I think. No, it was more like Laydane. But could that be right? I only knew him as Gary. Yeah, yeah, play your little game with me. There is no Gary’s Yard. It’s just something to keep the new guys busy.
I gave up and started talking (email) to Robert Huettl, a guy in the States who might be able to get me the parts my truck needed. He has a nice collection of old Chevrolets, trucks and cars. So if someone is interested, he is willing to sell.
Then one day, out of the blue, an email came from a guy named John (“Ezekiel” for the Stovebolters). He saw my address on The Stovebolt Page. He said he use to live around here, where he lost his truck. He wondered if I could go and have a look when I was in the neighbourhood. (Long story and I’m not a smooth typist in English.)
Why not? It’s not like I’m really busy in the winter and old trucks are always fun. We email some info up and down and then he asks about Gary’s Yard! He, of course, didn’t know where it was, but he had been there and it was huge. Right. Gary’s Yard. They must have noticed that I wasn’t looking for it any more and they are now trying to get me going again.
So I checked the email address, the IP# and it’s all from the right place -- Calgary -- three hours from here. Hmmm?? But he must have some connection with Foremost. He told me himself that he used to live here. Hmmm?? Does this place exist? It's driving me nuts.
I buy the county map and with a magnifying glass (yes I’m getting old). I go over the whole northeast corner of the county to find a Lysine or a Laydane or anything like it. John even phones me to see if I have found Gary’s Yard yet.
“The last name could be something like Ledine.”
Ahhh that rings a bell! Back to the county map to locate where he lives. No Ledine, but a Ledene and he has two quarters somewhere north east of town, say 40 miles by road. Thanks to that nice, but huge coulee, you have to drive around. The next day I run into a backhoe operator who works sometimes in that area and he told me it’s just north of Maleb, a little town -- of course ----north east of Foremost.
Ok. I was wrong I guess. That’s what you get when you can’t really understand the language and they are fooling you all the time because you’re Dutch. Let’s take the afternoon off and go there. We now know where it is ... kind of.
It was the 10th of December 2005, a day I will never forget. It was freezing, windy and there was snow on the ground. I got lost and asked for directions to Gary Ledene's. “I’m not sure where that might be” was the answer from the motorist I pulled over. So I asked him for the town of Maleb. That was easier. “Just follow this road to the tarmac. Turn east and follow the tarmac which will turn north after a few miles. Take the next road west. Drive about 10 miles and you’re in Maleb or what’s left of it. It can be two miles further north, too.”
So I found Maleb or what’s left of it -- a burned out school house, a basketball field and that’s it. Now Gary’s Yard should be north of here on the same road. I turn north and start climbing a hill. Behind the hill, the land slopes down (that’s why they call it a hill, of course) and before me ... there it is. Like you see in the movies. The half-delerious warrior crawls his way across the desert sands and as he crests the hill, before him is a wonderful oasis! Man, here it is: rows and rows of old cars and trucks parked in the snow.
Is this it? Could I have found Gary’s Yard? This is huge! Look there -- two Chevy’s from the ‘30’s. Oh, and a big sign … ”Guard dog on duty.” I better stay in the truck. I turn into the driveway and there they are: trucks, cars and farm equipment from the past. Some from the beginning of last century. Some in neat rows. Some just thrown together. A Chevrolet roulade. An old Buick. Look there: a Maple Leave truck from the beginning of the ‘50’s and over there a Chevrolet saloon from ’29. Another Buick / hotrod. Too many to count.
I must have found Gary’s Yard. This is incredible. I have never seen that many old vehicles in the same place. Many I don’t even know what brand they are -- exotic shapes, teardrop fenders, strange radiators and hood emblems. This must be junk yard heaven. And it is!
After awhile, I met Gary Ledene and he gave me permission to snoop around. I did so for three hours. I was cold to the bone and the camera slowed down with frozen batteries.
I went back a few days later and spent another three hours wandering through a different parts of the yard. There is no logic: a ‘34 Chevrolet four door next to a ‘58 Cadillac, next to a ‘45 Ford farm truck next to a ’65 combine. I had a nice talk with Gary and got some of the stories that came with every vehicle he owns. He knows it all by heart and knows the name of the original owner, the price and the day he got it in his yard.
From his deck I take the picture below. What you see from there is about 1/4 to 1/3 of his "little supply" of vehicle nostalgia. I have to go back soon and take some more pictures. I could stay there a month and I still might not see them all. I took a bunch of individual pictures. You can see them in my photo album. Two parts! (There are a LOT of good pictures!)
So THIS is Gary’s Yard. And he tells me there’s even a 1925 Chevrolet sitting in another corner. So you know where I’ll be going first.
If this isn't enough great news for you ... here comes the best part. Gary Ledene will sell vehicles or parts and ship them world wide if he has to. Now, you can find him
in south east Alberta Canada, about 1.5 hours from the border crossing at Aden or Coutts. Coming from the States (Coutts), take the 501 east in Milk River (½ hour) and turn north on the 897 towards Foremost. Follow the 897 through Foremost. Go through two coulees and take the TWP RD 90 east (40 minutes). At the T-intersection (20 minutes), turn south for a half mile and look east. That’s Gary’s Yard.
Gary’s phone number (mountain time) is 1 403 545 6533. For complete vehicles, he follows the “Old Car Price Guide”, so make sure you have a recent copy on you. And make sure you’re talking the same kind of dollars. Do have fun and take it all in!
And if you want to do it by phone only, and you want second look / pictures before you order -- AND you’re not in a hurry -- email me and the next time I’m there, I’ll talk to Gary and take some pictures of the item / vehicle you are looking for. I don’t do negotiations about anything and I make no profit doing this. I want to see them running, not rusting and learn something about them in the process.
Bolter # 8972
Rural Foremost, Alberta, Canada
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