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From Tow Canada Farewell to the King of the Road


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TC-Jan_Feb-21-hi-res-cov-765x1024.jpgOriginally published in Tow Canada, January-February 2021

by Iva Kestrankova

While there are many skilled tow truck operators, some true legends, there has been only one recovery king.

[Cover photo by Jim Massena] “Allan was my mentor and best friend. I was lucky enough to be his wing man,” said a tow operator Jim “Gummer” Massena, who shared this image of Alan Eadie in his early years.

Every age has a hero. For the Canadian towing and recovery industry in the 1980s and 90s, Alan Eadie was a hero.. He was not only an amazing tow truck operator who others enjoyed working with and looked up to, he was also one of the driving forces that helped elevate professionalism within the industry. Whatever task he got and whatever challenge he faced as a tow operator, Alan always demonstrated an excellent work ethic, discipline, and preparedness. 

Over his career of more than 50 years, Alan proved his skills, performing the most complex recoveries, demonstrating his dedication to training and his determination to better the industry. When he passed away, in July 2020, the towing community lost not only an icon of a retiring generation, but also a true legend who passionately dedicated his life to enhancing the industry for all. 

His towing career started in the mid-1960s, in Ontario. Gaining his first experience with light-duty recoveries, he gradually worked his way up to heavy-duty towing. “It was hard to make a living, so Alan and I started to drive heavy tow trucks; Holmes 600 and 750 wreckers,” said a fellow operator, Frank Dorey, who first met his friend Alan in the Toronto area back in the 1970s.

The following two decades brought the biggest achievements in Alan’s career. As Jack Hayes summed up in his article, Revisiting the King of the Road in the September-October 2016 issue of Tow Canada, Alan earned his reputation and the respect of his fellow operators, first responders, and the public when educating them on how to respond in emergency situations. 

He strived to elevate his skills to be the best, and helped others to do the same.”

In the early 1990s, Alan and Frank decided to take their recovery techniques to a higher level and signed up for one of the early WreckMaster training classes in Ontario. Back then, their instructor was none other than Donnie Cruse, one of the WreckMaster founders. With extensive experience in towing and recovery, Alan and Frank soon proved their expertise and professional attitude to the WreckMaster community and both became WreckMasters in 1991.

Over his career, Alan collected many accolades and awards, not only for demonstrating his skills on the side of the road, but also for participating in several heavy wrecker beauty contests, where he always showed up with his truck perfectly polished and clean. He was a regular at the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario’s Tow Show and the American Towman Exposition in Baltimore. Those who knew Alan often recalled that he hardly ever took any vacations, except for a couple of days off that he reserved every year to be part of these two trade shows.

However, networking with peers during tow shows was only a small part of Alan’s involvement in the community. As his friend Frank remembered, Alan enjoyed Christmas and Halloween parties and regularly participated in the local Santa Claus parade by promoting the Don’t Drink & Drive campaign. 

In 1999, he was nominated for Tow Canada’s Driver of the Year award and emerged the clear winner, being recognized for his dedication to training and single-mindedness to do the job in the most professional way possible. 

Photo-2-Alan-Eadie-1024x717.jpgKirk Baker, Alan Eadie, Jeff Wilson, and Frank Dorey at Tow Canada’s booth during American Towman Exposition in 2015.

After spending 21 years with A Towing, where he worked alongside his friend Frank, Alan started working for Comtow in Toronto. “I have so many stories about him,” said Frank, “doing out of town tows and lots of heavy-duty accidents and recoveries. [While working for A Towing] he worked his way up through 40- and 60-ton stick booms to rotators.” 

He was not the tallest guy, but he surely stood out from the crowd because of his unique combination of professionalism, expertise, and diligence.”

He was not the tallest guy, but he surely stood out from the crowd because of his unique combination of professionalism, expertise, and diligence.”

Family eventually led Alan to Nova Scotia, where he helped organize emergency rescue demonstrations to educate heavy rescue fire departments, emergency hazmat personnel, RCMP, tow operators, and the public, about their roles in emergency situations. He also provided training in air cushion and heavy-duty recovery techniques.

Later still, life took the King of the Road back to Toronto, where he utilized his expertise in rollovers as a highway maintenance crew leader, as he described to Jack Hayes in 2016. Throughout his career, no matter which company Alan worked for, he devoted much of his time to travelling across eastern Canada and the United States to educate novice towers about towing and recovery strategies. He always strived to elevate his skills to be the best, and helped others to do the same.

Looking at Alan’s long career, there are dozens of challenging recoveries he dealt with every year, hundreds of students he enriched with his training, and countless unforgettable stories revealing various aspects of this exceptional man’s life.

Alan_Cover-TC-1.jpgAlan Eadie voted the King of the road of 1999 (Tow Canada, Spring 2000)

He was not the tallest guy, but he surely stood out from the crowd because of his unique combination of professionalism, expertise, and diligence. And that is also what he expected from others. He consistently wore a clean uniform, the virtues of which he persistently preached to other operators at any opportunity, and he always responded to a call in a spotless truck.

Those who have been involved in the towing industry for as long as Alan will agree that towing is not a regular job, it is a way of life. And Alan’s story is a testament to that. “Alan lived it, slept it, was passionate about it and he was very good at it,” said Frank about his lifelong friend. Alan was an excellent tow operator, a great man, and an unforgettable character. He helped steer the course of the industry and his legacy of professionalism and preparedness will remain viable and relevant for many future generations. He is, and will be, missed by many. 

View the full article on Tow Canada

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