SILVER WATER – The memory and works of the late Bruce Duncanson will always be synonymous with Manitoulin Transport as it was Mr. Duncanson who created and painted the well-known logo for the company many years ago.
Doug Smith, founder of Manitoulin Transport explained, “it was over 60 plus years ago, and yes, Bruce (Duncanson) was known to be a pretty good painter and had designed and painted logos before.”
“So, I asked him if he could design and paint a logo for the sides of the doors of our trucks,” Mr. Smith told The Expositor.
“The company logo is very much the as the original one Bruce created,” said Mr. Smith. “He painted the original logo and it remains the same today.”
In a book on the history of Manitoulin Transport, it explains in part, “because their application for a change of name and transfer of licence, made on January 1, 1960, had not yet been approved by the Ontario Transport Board, Smith’s Wholesale had to operate under Hill’s Transport name and licence, from January to June of 1960, when the new licence was finally issued by the Ontario Department of Transport. In July 1960, Bill and Reta Smith sold the majority of their shares in Smith’s Wholesale (Manitoulin) Limited to their son, Doug.”
“Manitoulin Transport was chosen as a new operating name. Bruce Duncanson of Silver Water created a readily-identifiable logo, which is still in use,” the history reads. “Jim McCutcheon, Tom Wright and Stewart Burns of Smith’s Wholesale days, all remembered that the legal processes didn’t quite keep up with the enthusiastic new trucking company.
“They had the new names on the trucks and had to take it off, because the official transfer wasn’t complete yet!” But by late summer 1960, the signs read ‘Manitoulin Transport.’
“Since Doug Smith was now seriously in the trucking business, he bought a new 12-cylinder GM tractor and a Can-Car 3-axle livestock trailer. Former employee Barb Rucker commented on the new rig: “It was a big day when that truck arrived. I think everyone in Gore Bay went to see it. It had come up from Toronto and everybody knew what hour it was arriving. There was a feeling of pride, not just amongst the people who worked with Manitoulin, but among the town’s people as well. It was the most beautiful thing on two wheels or twenty wheels, whatever. It was a super thing!”
“Even when Bruce was a little boy, art was a big thing in his life,” his wife Irene told The Expositor. “His schoolbooks were always full of pictures of cars, trucks or something. In Silver Water we still have many of his Bristol board ink drawings. I really take pride in them,” she said noting as well that her late husband did a few oil paintings as well.
“Bruce painted a lot of trucks for people when they needed a name on them, and would paint mailboxes as well,” said Ms. Duncanson. “On weekends he would go to someone’s place on the Island to paint their vehicles or mailboxes, or they would bring them up to Silver Water for him to do, noting that he painted the Purvis Brothers fish trucks, designed and painted the Obejewung Park sign and the ‘Welcome to Barrie Island sign.”
“Bruce was quite an artistic talent,” said Ms. Duncanson. “When he did the designs for the Manitoulin (Transport) trucks, he first drew it on paper and then would paint it.”
Bruce Duncanson of Gore Bay and Silver Water, passed away peacefully with his family by his side on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, at the age of 91. Survived by his loving wife Irene, for over 63 years. Cherished father of Jeff (Judy) and Glenn (Robin). Special grandpa to Grace and Owen; uncle to nieces Debbie Brotherstone and Judy (Frank) Nocera.
Mr. Duncanson was predeceased by his parents Arden and Ruth (Buck) Duncanson, sister Norine (Emil) Bub. Bruce lived for family and community. He was a charter member of the Robinson Local Services Board. He was a volunteer with the local fire department until the age of 80, as well as being a member of the community hall board and the local school board. He was a steward at St. Andrew’s United Church for over 60 years. He also found his singing voice later in life and joined the choir. From an early age, Bruce worked the family farm with his father, while (like Glen Campbell) he worked as a “Lineman for the County” doing line repairs. He spent many years doing road construction and plowing snow. He also had a hand in the construction of many of the cottages still enjoyed around Silver Lake, including his own retirement home. Bruce was an avid antique car enthusiast and a talented artist. His hand painted signs were seen all over Manitoulin Island, and Manitoulin Transport continues to carry one of his designs as their logo.