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 company’s well-known logo many years ago.
Doug Smith, founder of Manitoulin Transport, explained, “It was over 60 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 our truck doors,” Smith told The Expositor.
“The company logo is very similar to the one Bruce originally created,” Smith said. “He painted the original logo and it remains the same today.”
In a book on the history of Manitoulin Transport, he explains in part that “because their request for a name change and license transfer, made on January 1, 1960, had not yet been approved by the Ontario, Smith’s Wholesale had to operate under the name and license of Hill’s Transport from January to June 1960, when the new license was finally issued by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. 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 has been chosen as the new trade name. Silver Water’s Bruce Duncanson created an easily identifiable logo, which is still in use,” the story reads. “Jim McCutcheon, Tom Wright and Stewart Burns of the Smith’s Wholesale days all remembered that the legal proceedings didn’t quite keep up with the enthusiasm of the new trucking company.
“They had the new names on the trucks and had to remove them, as the official transfer was not yet complete!” But by the late summer of 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 3-axle Can-Car cattle trailer. Former employee Barb Rucker commented on the new platform: “It was a great day when this truck arrived. I think everyone in Gore Bay went to see it. He had arrived from Toronto and everyone knew what time he was arriving. There was a sense of pride, not only among the people who worked with Manitoulin, but also among the townspeople. It was the most beautiful thing on two wheels or twenty wheels, whatever. It was a great thing!
“Even when Bruce was a little boy, art was a big thing in his life,” his wife Irene told The Expositor. “His textbooks were always filled with pictures of cars, trucks and the like. In Silver Water we still have a lot of his ink drawings from Bristol. I’m really proud of them,” she said also noting that her late husband also did some oil paintings.
“Bruce painted a lot of trucks for people when they needed a name on them, and also painted mailboxes,” Ms Duncanson said. “On weekends he would go to someone on the island to paint his vehicles or mailboxes, or they would bring them to Silver Water for him to do, noting that he had painted the trucks of fishing Purvis Brothers, designed and painted the Obejewung Park sign and the “Welcome to Barrie Island” sign.
“Bruce was an artistic talent,” Ms Duncanson said. “When he did the drawings of the Manitoulin (Transportation) trucks, he first drew them on paper and then painted them.”
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 beloved wife Irene, for over 63 years. Doted father of Jeff (Judy) and Glenn (Robin). Grace and Owen’s special grandfather; uncle to nieces Debbie Brotherstone and Judy (Frank) Nocera.
Mr Duncanson was predeceased by his parents Arden and Ruth (Buck) Duncanson, his sister Norine (Emil) Bub. Bruce lived for his family and his community. He was a founding member of the Robinson Local Services Board. He volunteered with the local fire department until he was 80 years old, in addition to 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 on the family farm with his father, while (like Glen Campbell) he worked as a “lineman for the county” fixing lines. He spent many years building roads and clearing snow. He was also involved in building many of the still-loved cabins around Silver Lake, including his own retirement home. Bruce was a vintage car enthusiast and talented artist. His hand-painted signs have been seen all over Manitoulin Island, and Manitoulin Transport continues to wear one of his designs as their logo.