A beige camper-van was Terry Fox’s home on wheels and rolling billboard during his heroic Marathon of Hope. This iconic vehicle has been graciously loaned temporarily to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
The Ford Econoline camper was Terry’s home, office and refuge throughout his 1980 odyssey from St. John’s to Thunder Bay. Exterior signs identified Terry and his mission, and announced his progress. It became a familiar and cherished sight for millions of Canadians. When Terry’s cancer returned in September of that year, he flew home to Vancouver and the Marathon of Hope came to an end. The van then began a remarkable journey of its own.
It was owned and driven for many years by a man in London, Ontario, then toured North America with a heavy metal band. By 2006, it was parked in Vancouver. Through a chance encounter at a party, the author of a book about Terry learned of its whereabouts. The Econoline was soon reunited with the Fox family. It was fully restored—courtesy of Ford—and used in the 2008 Tour of Hope fundraising campaign.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization later approached the Fox family and offered to store the van and ensure its proper care. The van was recently shipped to the Museum’s facilities in Gatineau, Quebec.
“We are delighted to do this for the Fox family and to have this iconic item under our care,” said Sheldon Posen, Director of the Museum’s Ethnology and Cultural Studies Division. Like most Canadians, Posen was captivated in 1980 by the tenacity and spirit of Terry Fox.
“He focused the country on something noble, and he showed us how to do something noble. His story is one of selflessness, high purpose and sacrifice. Terry was not seeking fame or fortune. He wanted one thing: to raise money for research that might put an end to cancer.”
Three decades later, Posen said, the van remains a powerful symbol of the Marathon of Hope and provides a magical connection to Terry and his legacy. “I received a message from Terry’s brother Darrell after the van was loaded on the truck for shipment,” said Posen. “He said the truck driver could not control his excitement.”
The Fox family recognizes that the Marathon of Hope is now a part of Canadian history and their brother and son is considered “one of our nation’s greatest heroes.” They believe the van, as part of the Terry Fox Collection, helps document Terry’s journey and ours as a nation and as a people.