FRIDAY FEATURE: Juliette’s Boys Shine in Armour
By Alisha Armour, ATS NewsLink
MONCTON, NB -- For the LeBlanc brothers—Gilles, Guy and Paul-Emile, trucking has always been a family affair. It was a pleasure to sit down with hem to reflect and learn more about their remarkable careers.
ATS NewsLink: How old were you when you first started driving truck and what made you decide to become a trucker?
Gilles: I was 17 when I first started driving. I wanted to drive because it was in the family for so many years. My Dad owned a gravel truck and worked to help raise 6 children at home.
Guy: I started driving at the age of 20.
Paul Emile: I started driving at the age of 16 with no license. I drove Dad’s gravel truck and pulp truck. I didn’t like school and worked with my Dad.
ATS NewsLink: Do you remember your first truck? How was it different from today’s trucks?
Gilles: My first truck with Armour was a shunt truck No. 33. It was a Chevrolet gas truck and I shunted in the city. Back then, the trucks didn’t have all of the bells and whistles of today’s trucks. Things such as cruise control, the quality of the drive and the comfort was not always there. When I moved to highway driving, there were no sleepers, so we used a piece of plywood to slide out and put over the two seats and sleep.
Guy: My first truck was a shunt truck (gas truck). If I remember right, it was truck No.26 and it was a single axle truck (Chevy 427). Today’s trucks are all air ride and diesel fuel.
Paul Emile: My first truck at Armour was a Ford No. 2 and the second one was a GM No.5.
ATS NewsLink: How many years have you been with Armour Transportation Systems? What are some of your first memories of working here?
Gilles: I have been with Armour for 38 years. Some of my first memories are actually before I was hired. I would join my big brother Paul Emile and go on the road with him to Campbellton, NB, to deliver chips. When I did start working here, I recall there were 15 employees and the only office was at 689 Edinburgh Drive. There was one mechanic, two garage doors at the far end of the building, three or four shipping doors and only one dispatcher: Paul LeBlanc.
Guy: I have been with Armour for 41 years this past February 12th (started in 1973).
Paul Emile: I have been with Armour Transport since January 24th, 1973. We were only maybe 15 employees and everybody knew everybody.
ATS NewsLink: Do you have any stories or memories of being on the road that you would like to share?
Gilles: A couple of years ago, I was on my way back from Nova Scotia, which is a rare route for me as I go to Toronto weekly. The date was actually September 11th. I saw a vehicle turned over on its roof and only a couple of people had stopped and were assessing the situation to see how they could help. A young lady with a young child had lost control and the vehicle was sitting upside down in a lot of water. The toddler was in the back seat and his head was not yet touching the water. He did not appear to be scared, but his mother was understandably in a panic. Luckily I had a knife, which I brought to cut the belts if I needed to. I opened the hatchback to try to get to the child and I was able to release the seat belt and safely catch the baby and put him into his Mommy’s arms. It felt good to be able to help.
Guy: There are too many stories to talk about!
Paul Emile: A story that Wes often shares is one very bad winter when we had a lot of snow, I got stuck in Magnetic Hill. I turned back and went to Wes’ office. I put the keys on his desk and wanted to leave, but Wes said “no, you stay” and that was 40 years ago. I still remember it to this day.
ATS NewsLink: Do you have any advice you would like to share for someone who is considering a career in the trucking industry?
Gilles: Advice…ummm, do you have patience? You really need to know how to cope with changes on the spot! I would suggest purchasing a good satellite radio for music and sports to keep you entertained and a good cell phone package.
Guy: Through the years, I have built a great working relationship with all. Great memories for sure.
Paul Emile: Be aware that you are not alone on the road. Someone could always follow you and report it to the company. Drive safely and enjoy and take care of your truck inside and outside.
ATS NewsLink: Looking back over your driving career, what do you see as your proudest accomplishment so far? Do you see yourself driving another one million miles?
Gilles: My proudest moment is reaching the four-million mark and owning my 11th truck. Yes, I do see myself driving for another million miles.
Guy: I feel proud of where I am today and still trucking on a daily basis. I do see myself achieving my 4 million mile award in two to three years and I am working towards this new accomplishment.
Paul Emile: I am proud of being accident-free for the past 35 years. In 1999, I went to the Rodeo and placed 2nd in the single-axle tractor-trailer class. Returning from Bathurst one time, driving Bison No.66, someone called Larry (Tower) and told him they were following this Bison and the driver was excellent; no speeding and following the rules of the road. At 63 years old, I would have to work for another 15 years and I can’t see myself driving at 78.
When asked what achieving 10 million accident-free miles together means to them, they all agree that sharing this achievement as brothers makes it even more special.
Added Guy: “Having three brothers that share this many million miles is one great, proud achievement. The stories when we get together are always memorable. It is an honor to share this with them as brothers for sure.”
And there is one special person who is particularly proud of their accomplishments; their mother, Juliette, who will celebrate her 90th birthday this summer. She enjoys hearing about their adventures on the road and despite their impeccable safety records she still worries about her boys’ driving, particularly in the winter time. She is very proud of their hard work ethic and for them to be part of the team at Armour Transportation Systems.
Congratulations to the LeBlanc family on this amazing accomplishment and thank you for sharing your incredible story!