Fifty years ago, an innovative travel trailer was launched in Winnipeg. While Boler trailers are no longer manufactured, their design style - two moulded fibreglass shells fused along a centre line - has been adopted by over 40 companies since, and the travel lifestyle they birthed has amassed a cult following.
It might be hard to find someone who knows Bolers better than Ian Giles. For the last four years, he’s been planning a massive gathering of Bolers and similar moulded fibreglass trailers in Winnipeg.
Giles runs three websites devoted to Bolers, including tips and tricks for repairing and upgrading the relatively small (10-foot by six-foot by six-foot) travel units.
“My goal is twofold,” Giles says, “One is to keep these pieces of Canadian history on the road. So the last one was made in 1988. I have a 1974, so it's 44 years old and still on the road.”
The second part of Giles’ goal hits closer to home.
“(M)y passion on this ... is the people. The owners are incredible,” Giles says. “The trailers ... bring us together, but we all have common interests, we all camp the same way. They're too small to live in when you're camping, so we're all outdoors-type people.”
Prior to the festival in August, Giles and one of his two volunteers have organized six caravan routes that trailer owners can join for a mass migration of trailers to Winnipeg from Western Canada (two routes), Eastern Canada, and from Southern, Eastern and Western points of the United States.
Giles describes it as a “snowball caravan,” where participants can join in at the closest point to them.
“We aren't organizing it where everyone's going to be back to back and a huge line of Bolers, that would piss off truckers like you wouldn't believe,” he says.
The majority of the festival is for trailer owners only, but on Saturday, August the 18th, it’ll open its doors to the general public. There will be Bolers from every year they were manufactured, Giles says, and visitors are welcome to pop their heads into any trailer with an open door that day.
“You're welcome to go look at it, see how we're able to cram so much in these little trailers,” he says.