Nick Lees: the Levasseur family donates a vintage car to the Pioneer Museum
The family has one of the best vintage car collections in Alberta and last week donated a 1918 Willys-Overland vehicle to Stony Plain and the Pioneer Museum in Parkland.
“History and our heritage can show us where we came from and where our future might lie,” said Gérard Levasseur, who represented his parents Gerry and Helga Levasseur and his sister Lisa Levasseur at a protocol ceremony limit.
Museum President Clifford Goerz, whose antique-loving father Henry Goerz helped establish the museum 27 years ago, says the institution has received 10,000 or more antiques over the years.
“Gerard bought the chic, minty Overland in St. Louis years ago and we are very proud to display this treasure in our museum. It is the precursor of the Jeep.
In a previous column, I mentioned Gerry Levasseur who was eager to leave school and exchanged bikes at the age of 14 or 15. He then set up a company that today employs around 500 people in its 10 Sunrise International hotels, its automotive companies and its construction companies.
Gérard took over the automakers this year and Lisa the hotels, but both say their father always comes up with very creative ideas.
“Dad has always been a car enthusiast,” says Gérard. “He passed this love on to me, and then I passed it on to my children. Dad still has a dozen old cars, including a Ferrari and a Lotus.
“This year in June, Lisa and I gave him a classic 1953 Buick convertible for his 88e birthday.”
The family, used to helping others, also started a well-funded Levasseur community trust in June this year.
“The fund is intended to honor our father and mother Helga,” says Lisa. “In this way, we know that our father’s legacy will continue for generations and help the communities that dad always supported.”
My cycling friends and I first became aware of Levasseur’s largesse in 2014 when, returning from Haida Gwaii with a totem pole we had planned to donate to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, we spent two nights at the family’s Terracana Ranch Resort in west of Jasper Park.
Gerry Levasseur, who had native groups and a band to entertain us, would not accept any payment for our group of around 40 and then hosted our large totem pole for the winter months before the installation.