career took me to different companies that all involved driving in
some cases involving commutes of over 40 minutes and others that
involved fair size sales territories. Working with my brother in law
who was a partner in an ad agency I ended up doing a lot of freelance
sales work for a personal client Orange aPEEL I helped set up
wholesalers and then the strategy was to convince some of their retail
clients to stock our product. Fortunately the wholesalers were
expanding from a small base in Ontario to a bigger base. One factor I
noticed was that sales declined in the summer and felt one reason was
that many of our pet owner consumers left for cottages. One of our
wholesalers was expanding to cottage country and beyond. I went on
longer and longer trips and eventually overnight. I went as far north
as Kapuskasing, west as far as Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor and as far
east as Gananoque and even Ottawa. Vet clinics were added on expanding
the calls I could make. Read more more on my Ontario expanded driving.
My daughter, Heather insisted that she wanted to go to King's College in Halifax. Nobody in our families had ever been to Halifax, but in fact it enriched us all. It was agreed that Heather and her mother would fly, but that someone would have to cart some furniture and other supplies. I asked the boss at Orange aPEEL if he would help pay hotel expenses if I sold in the Maritimes. Some of our existing wholesalers (mostly ones I had set up) had a toehold in the Maritimes. It was agreeable to us all. Heather ended up there for five years and I made two two way trips each year.
step in the process was staying in my sister's home in Brossard, on the
south shore of Montreal. I learned two routes through New Brunswick
and looped around Nova Scotia covering most of the vet clinics and pet
stores in those two provinces and Prince Edward Island. A conversation
with my brother in law, Ali while in Brossard suggested I would as an
anglophone do better in Quebec than a francophone would do in Ontario. I
got some help from a French speaking co-worker, Jacques Major who
helped me with an introductory speech and later with a special story
aimed at receptionists. Beyond that my French was pretty pathetic, but
could struggle with a helpful francophone who proved to be the
majority. But the bonus was that many clinics hired bilingual
receptionists or even better they called in their bilingual boss so I
was able to talk directly to the decision maker. I was able to add in
two more wholesalers and one of our Ontario wholesalers expanded in both
Quebec and the Maritimes. One co-worker joked that I was really on a
vacation, but in fact I was very busy. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/07/travels-of-salesman-part-3-quebec.html
On my first trip studying maps I found a shortcut to a stop in Windsor, Nova Scotia. It reminded of where I learned to drive, with hills and curvy roads. Ironically Windsor was home to Thomas Halliburton whose name was taken for the county where I learned to drive. Most of the places I called in Nova Scotia were on the ocean and I wondered what was in the middle. I discovered with one single call that cut across the middle and it turns out the answer is trees.
Read about expanding to the Maritimes. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/07/travels-of-salesman-part-two-maritimes.html
At the beginning my trips to the Maritimes were ignoring the bigger audience in francophone Quebec but that too entered my life.
Car rentals weren't part of my life
until one vacation where I had won a trip to Florida. My father in law
advised us to rent a car from Rent A Wreck which we did from the Tampa
airport. Unknown to me the condo manager had not been told of my visit,
but even though the car didn't look like a trustworthy person was driving
he believed my story, my wife and four year old daughter were
grateful. We visited Disney World, Busch Gardens, Cape Canaveral and
lots of other sites. On my only other trip to Florida we used them
again, but my brother in law had to have his towed away.
vacations we often flew to a site and rented a car. From Montreal I
rented a Prius, my first experience with an environmentally friendly
car. All I can remember is after returning from Quebec City I had a lot
of trouble turning off a loud alarm at my sister's. Other vacations
were to British Columbia. One time we flew to Vancouver, took a ferry
over to Victoria and the next day took another ferry ride to and from
Vancouver so my son could compete in a track meet.. Then again we took
the ferry back to the airport. The next time we flew directly to
Victoria. One memorable trip was after we picked up my friend, Bob
Stone at the ferry depot in Nanaimo we headed to Tofino, but Bob
steered us to the old route that took us by Coombs for a unique retail
experience. We hit Tofino in the off season, but an interesting place.
The most interesting rental experience came after my car was called to garage and I was told they needed it for a few days. This happened at the start of the Easter weekend when I was supposed to leave for Halifax. I had well over 100 sales stops planned. We couldn't get hold of any rental cars that had any available. Someone suggested try an airport and we were able to rent one from the Toronto Airport and with not that many choices I ended up with a high performance car. My son was thrilled when I brought it home and the next day I left. I soon found it could accelerate much faster than my car and I found myself passing other cars, even long streams on two lane highways. When I met my daughter she was disappointed that wouldn't let her drive it because of rental rules. When I returned it they at first tried to charge me for all the extra mileage (about $800 as I recall), but they reverted to original agreement considerably cheaper.
Backtrack a little. On my previous trip to Halifax my daughter had a beginners permit and had taken driver education. The lens on my glasses came out about 8 in the morning. Anxious to get going I had my daughter drive to the next town, Truro where I got my glasses fixed and I realized if I let my daughter drive I could make my sales calls a little bit better prepared. I made lots of calls and finally decided around 5 pm or so in Edmonston I would take over as it would soon get dark. Reaching my sister's I remembered my brother-in-law's original instructions and although I was too confused to use them, this time coming from the opposite direction I did remember. The next day we got early and left as the Montreal rush hour was in full swing and Heather drove through that. Again I made lots of calls and when we reached Toronto we again hit very heavy traffic. Heather handled it very well. Shortly after our trip when Heather went for her license test the tester pressed for time asked her if she had any highway experience and after she explained she had driven most of the way from Halifax, including three rush hours he let her get the license on her first effort.My career has wound down. Towards the end I found myself once a month delivering newspapers (The Rider, a horse lover publications) over a wide area. It was my idea to set up a number of librairies spread over four counties. Another thing happened when one of the partners' mother needed a ride to visit her husband each day in a retirement home. We had an interesting conversations and I learned to play a game she was fond of. The game was trying to figure out what vanity plates meant. I got to the point where I could sometimes ask a driver. Read more: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/02/driving-with-miss-jane.html
Some of you may have duplicated some of my favorite drives and others looking for something interesting. Here is a list of some of my favorites.
When I decided to make a few sales calls to Sydney, Nova Scotia I saw two routes so I took them both. One was the old highway with lots of winding and lake views. Rita McNeil had a stop along the way. The other way was a modern highway that wasn't at all boring. At one point I stopped at Baddeck which overlooks Bras d'or Lake where Alexander Graham Bell flew the first airplane in Canada.
The normal route to Halifax had been done a few times and I needed to expand my sales efforts so looking at a map discovered the Atlantic side of New Brunswick which meant driving a little further through Quebec past Rimouski one could head down to Campbellton, New Brunswick through Matapedia country that was another hilly, curvy road with lots of trees. Very entrancing.
Switching coasts and under the guidance
of Bob Stone, we decided to seek out Tofino. Bob suggested we take the
old road that included Coombs with a most interesting retail store.
Along the way we passed Port Alberni (earlier I had interviewed Bill
Robinson, a famous basketball player from there) where a tsunami had once
reached. Tofino is a backpacker's ideal. The three of us stayed
In Ontario I became attached to Picton in Prince Edward County. Mostly I approached it through Belleville, but on one occasion curious about a different route out of Kingston I discovered there was a ferry boat ride to the town of Picton. Just my idea of a quaint village with lots of pleasant landscape in an out.
Another pleasant drive was from the town of New Liskeard which sits on Lake Temiskaming lead to Hailebury with the lake on my left the whole way. Only one time I approached New Liskeard through Quebec on the other side. Also scenic.
In case you missed it link to Part One: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/02/my-life-and-adventures-with-cars-part.html