Photo by Greg Long
NOTE TO THE READER: We have endeavored to write a history on Citroën cars in BC based on our reflections and remembrances; however, it needs to be a ‘living document’ as we are hoping you’ll send us your own photos, experiences, and stories so we can improve this article over time. Please send updates or photos to the Northwest Citroën Owners Club at NWCOC@earthlink.net. Thanks and happy reading.
We have chosen to approach this subject on a year-by-year basis since a lot was happening in the Citroën world in BC, especially in the late 1950's and thoughout the 1960's. At the bottom of each section, there is a link to the next year.
The following passage is from Issue 3 of the Club Citroën Canada newsletter May / June 1973 written by then club President Rupert Downing...
“Colombie Brittanique (BC as its colloquially termed) involves some of the most varied weather and road conditions in the world, from the banana belt around Victoria, to the frozen wastes of the Peace River district. Needless to say the scenery is equally variable but always beautiful, and this,
combined with any abundance of natural resources, has attracted large droves of land and opportunity starved Europeans who have brought with them their strange and defiantly foreign customs, such as eating at the ungodly hour of 8pm.
But among the possessions of these starry eyed adventurers came their own very odd means of transportation and for this we may be grateful. Because Canadians may be able to grow maple trees, build igloos, trap beavers and sell land, but they just can’t build cars, and our neighbors to the south are really only interested in building tanks, so its to the Europeans that we must turn. Certainly the most odd car of them all, is the Citroën, and the early French, Dutch and even English pioneers brought their ‘hydroelectric clams’, into this wild western province, just twenty years ago. How the marque is firmly entrenched and even the hardiest British Columbians have been known to drool over them.
Vancouver has at least 200 Citroëns throbbing with hydropneumatic energy and the rest of the province probably accounts for another 100. Around the capital city of Victoria, there are some 30 Citroëns, 12 of which are members of Club Citroën Canada, including one 11CV and one Mehari, and it’s interesting to note that over half of these are European immigrants.
Despite this conglomeration of Citroën there is only one dealer and authorised service centre in the province, that being in Vancouver. Competent garages do exist in Chilliwack, Kamloops, Victoria and Parksville, also garages in Vancouver (two of them) are becoming increasingly popular. However, due to the lack of dealers, parts are scarce and expensive and this coupled with high labour costs, makes many Citroën owners become home mechanics. Vancouver is also the home of the western offices of Citroën Canada Ltd but the branch’s importance has unfortunately declined. They originally controlled all sales and service and in those days Citroën owners had few complaints. Under the competent management of Herbert Lecour, Citroën on the west coast was making a name for itself.
Then came the appointment of independent dealers, and a decline of owner satisfaction set in. That is until Club Citroën Canada came along and started bringing Citroën owners together. At least now we have each other to gripe to. The regional section of the club in Victoria has had two very successful events. One big introductory meeting at the President’s residence, which solved several problems for less mechanically minded owners, and a “rite of spring” picnic on the 11 acre property of Mr. Tony Hubner, who proved a very able host. A further meeting and technical workshop and perhaps a convoy picnic to one of the beaches up-island are all being planned and we hope that members on the mainland will be attracted to brave the dangers of the ferry crossing, to attend.
VANCOUVER SUN, MAY17, 1973
Citroën presence may not be noticeable in BC as it is in Ontario and Quebec but BC Citroën owners seem more enthusiastic. Perhaps its the ‘wild western’ atmosphere out here.”