Long-time race: Edmonton tanker driver, 78, shorted for ‘best driver’ award

You won’t catch him speeding up, but Ed Stasyshyn’s career shows little sign of slowing down.

After more than 50 years in the trucking industry, the 78-year-old Edmonton man is short of a big honor in his industry: the National Tank Truck Carriers’ Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year award.

Bulk haulage companies across North America nominate drivers for the annual award, which recognizes community contributions and safety commitments.

Stasyshyn’s longtime employer Trimac Transportation nominated him for the award ahead of the pandemic and in February 2020 he flew to Arlington, Va. To participate in a series of challenges along with seven other finalists.

The awards ceremony has been postponed due to last year’s pandemic, but is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 14, at the association’s annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Because the trip would not be considered essential travel, Stasyshyn doesn’t plan to cross the border next week, but he said winning the award will still mean a lot to him and his employer.

If he wins, he would be the first Canadian driver to do so.

Ed Stasyshyn stands next to the Freightliner Cascadia he currently rents outside of Trimac Transportation’s east Edmonton location. (Madeleine Cummings / CBC)

From trade to truck

Stasyshyn was born in Edmonton, but raised on a farm north of the city, becoming a certified journeyman electrician after high school.

While in his 20s, a strike at his workplace – a construction site at the Royal Alexandra Hospital – prompted him to change careers.

Needing money and tired of walking up and down the picket line, he began to pick up and drop off loads for Boychuk Transport. He enjoyed the freedom that came with work and decided to stick with it.

For many years, Stasyshyn’s roads followed highways through western Canada, going as far north as Whitehorse, and occasionally venturing into eastern Canada and the southeastern United States.

Now he’s staying closer to home, carrying powdered cement around town.

Ed Stasyshyn demonstrates the safest way to get into the cab of a truck. (Madeleine Cummings / CBC)

Safety first

Stasyshyn knows some drivers don’t like it, but he takes speed limits very seriously. It pushes a hair under the limit, which allows time to make corrections or react in an emergency.

This commitment to safety could earn him the NTTC award.

“The first thing they look for is security,” Stasyshyn said.

“If you’re a real asshole and you’ve only had problems, forget about it.”

Stasyshyn’s safety record speaks for itself. Other than two minor incidents, for which others were charged and charged with covering repair costs, he said he was never involved in an accident. And his license has been without demerit for over 40 years.

“Many operators will go years without having an incident, but for someone who will go decades, decades… this is at a level that we just don’t see,” said Travis Fast, deputy regional manager at Trimac Transportation.

Active radio8:0578-year-old tanker driver competing for an international award

CBC’s Madeleine Cummings visits Ed Stasyshyn at the Trimac Transportation jobsite in east Edmonton. 8:05

Passion and support

Stasyshyn’s passion for the industry extends beyond the doors of his truck. He has served on works councils, worked with Women Building Futures and was Road Knight with the Alberta Motor Transport Association for two years.

Outside of the industry, he works with judo athletes, coaches with a club and volunteers at tournaments.

Stasyshyn considers a supportive spouse – his wife of 42 years – one of the secrets to his professional success.

She shovels the show and takes care of everything at home, allowing him to focus on his surroundings on the road.

“To be successful in trucking, you need to have a good support system in two places: first, at home, and you need to have a good support system at work,” he said.

“I’m lucky because I have both.”

Although he sometimes talks about retirement, his colleagues hope that day is over.

“We hope to have him around for a long time,” said Fast.

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