Photographer of maples has many local old-car buddies

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, October 22, 2008

Former Cochrane resident Ron Buckley, an avid antique car buff, works on his ’62 VW Karmann Ghia at his home in Port Williams, Nova Scotia. Photo by Bob Thomson

So, what do red maple leaves in Nova Scotia have to do with antique car buffs here in Cochrane? For the answer, we don’t have to look any further than local coffee companion Malcolm “Mac” McLeod

Mac saw that spectacular photo of swamp maples in last week’s column and thought he recognized the name of the photographer, Ron Buckley.

“I knew a Ron several years ago,” Mac wrote. “He was a geologist and a ham radio buff and I was wondering if it was the same person.”

I got the two of them connected and indeed it was the same Ron Buckley. It turns out Ron has many friends around our beautiful Bow Valley community, people who would love to reconnect with him, not just because of his geology and ham radio activities, however, but even more so because of his passion for old cars.

Before returning to his ancestral home in Nova Scotia in 1992, Ron and his wife Carol lived in Cochrane for 20 years, not far from their neighbour Walter Wearmouth just east of the Mount St. Francis Retreat. Their children attended school here and participated in 4-H, while Carol poured her heart and soul into a beautiful home greenhouse and often served my wife and me those wonderful country meals for which she was so famous.

But it’s Ron’s passion for antique cars that seems to have given him some special memories – and friendships – in our parts. He really doted over his 1925 Model T and showed it off proudly in Cochrane’s Labour Day parades. And when the Model T Ford Club of America held its ground-breaking 1988 meeting in our parts, he managed to get his restored Model T all the way up to Banff and back – and without pushing! His longtime Cochrane antique car buddy and award-winning author Roman Fodchuk was on that tour, as well.

Back east now, Ron still can’t get those wonderful old cars out of his system. These days while Carol’s tending to her magnificent rose garden, he’s restoring a ’62 VW Karmann Ghia, the seventh oldest, according to a registry of serial numbers.

“It’s a ’62 Karmann Ghia, Type 343, made from 1962 until around 1969,” Ron wrote. “Only about 44,000 were built during that time and they were sold only in Canada, for $3,200.”

The beginning of this week I went over to the Cochrane A&W, a favourite gathering place for local old-car buffs. Mike Bigland, the proprietor, is quite the antique car enthusiast himself and loves nothing better than seeing his parking lot filled with cars way older than my white beard. I showed some of the gang a photo Ron sent me of himself with his Karmann Ghia.

Don “Windy” Erhardt was sipping coffee as usual. He’s never met Ron personally, but he sensed immediately the two of them are kindred spirits. Although Windy is the proud owner of four vintage vehicles from the ‘40s and early ‘50s – “all Flathead V8s,” he says – he’s most recognizable around town in his two-door 1950 Mercury Meteor convertible, especially when he sounds its signature cow horn, the kind some area ranchers used to use to call their cattle to dinner.

When Windy saw the photo of the Karmann Ghia, he told me to make sure Ron knew he was welcome to join his table the next time he’s in town. Ron’s old buddies Walter and Roman, sitting one table away, seconded the motion.

And Ron, proprietor Mike said to tell you the coffee – or a root beer, if you prefer – is on him when you show up.

© 2008 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page