While fulltime RVing several years ago, I was often taken by the sight of a small vintage-looking fiberglass travel trailer that had rounded corners resembling those of a bowler derby. It was usually cream or beige colored and was being towed by a car or small truck. I came to know the little trailers as Bolers.
The climate created by the Great 2008 Recession had spawned an appeal for “small” houses, automobiles and RVs. I was definitely not immune.
The Boler seems to this day to be permanently embedded in my pysche. But why? In an attempt to answer the question for myself, I did some research.
The 13-foot fiberglass travel trailer was first built in 1968 in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was made by the first fiberglass trailer business and was brainchild of Ray Olecko, who was a car salesman and inventor of the first fiberglass septic tank. Mr. Olecko and two other men produced and refined the design of the first Bolers. Within a matter of four years, these men had made sales of the little Boler (that sold for $1,400) totaling half a million dollars.
Mr. Olecko and one of his partners, Sandor Dussa (who was the actual mold-maker for the first Boler) were given a Design Award in the 1969 by the Manitoba Government Department of Industry and Commerce. In 1972, the Boler company was sold and began being produced in several plants both in Canada and the United States.
The last Boler trailer was built around 1988 after an estimated production of 10,000. According to former Bolerama website, Jim Pattison Inc., the owner of Neonex (the company in Canada that took over production of the Boler trailer from Mr. Olecko) continues to hold the Boler trademark.
The interesting thing is that as I did research on this light-weight little trailer, I learned that its name seems inextricably entwined with the names of two other 13-foot fiberglass trailers that are still built today. Those two trailers are the Trillium and the Scamp.
Trillium states that their fiberglass 13-foot trailer, the Outback is a direct descendant of the trailers where the Boler was built in Ontario. (In a call to the Trillium Outback folks at (403) 398-8732, I was told that they also restore and sell Bolers at their Calgary, Alberta plant.) On their website they state “Demand in the industry has moved us into manufacturing a trailer based on the popular Boler trailer of the 1970’s, except with the latest technology.”
As for Scamp’s connection to the original Boler trailer, a trip to Scamp’s website proved fruitful. It states there that a Boler American representative approached Eveland’s Inc. in Minnesota (Scamp’s manufacturer) back in the 1970’s and together they made a contract to jointly build and market the Boler trailer in the U.S. After Boler American went out of business in late 1972, Eveland’s Inc. took the trailer molds and began marketing the trailer with the name Scamp.
No wonder the Boler trailer has been so captivating! It is filled with fascinating history.
Author Levonne Gaddy’s book “This Restless Life: A dream chased through California parks in an RV” chronicles her relocation adventures from the Southwest to Central Coast California during the Great Recession of 2008-2009. They encounter many twists and turns including a dead body found near their camp hosting camp site, problems finding work and multiple threats of floods. @Levonnegaddy
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