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Tonka trucks treasured for new generation at Langford home

Pieces of the past pay homage to old Langford
Eric Berbenuik shares his collection of Tonka trucks which adorned his Langford yard. (Photo by Tim Collins)

Tim Collins/Contributor

There’s no doubt Langford has changed a lot in the past 30 years but then, so have a lot of things.

Perhaps that’s why there’s a special significance to Eric Berbenuik and the collection of Tonka trucks gracing his front yard.

There are at least 60 of the iconic yellow toys spread across his Peatt Road property, ranging from giant cranes to hefty dump trucks and everything in between.

Berbenuik grew up playing with the old steel trucks and it was his fond memories of the toys that, about three years ago, prompted him to bring home two trucks that showed up at his work site at a local scrap yard.

The rest? Well, that just sort of happened.

“The guys at work know that I collect these trucks and now, when one shows up, they put it aside for me and I bring them home and add it to my collection,” said Berbenuik.

“The majority of them come from there, although now I have people come by and donate trucks that I add to the others.”

Berbenuik is not a collector in the traditional sense of the word. Although mint-condition Tonka trucks can be valuable, Berbenuik feels that these toys were meant to be played with.

That’s why he has no problem with the regular visits from children who drop by to play with the trucks. In fact, it makes him happy to see it happen.

“You don’t see the metal trucks anymore and that’s a shame,” said Berbenuik. “Now it’s all that plastic junk. The metal ones were great and I’m happy to share them with a new generation of kids.”

And while Berbenuik suspects his collection would raise some eyebrows from neighbours if he lived in one of Langford’s newer, upscale communities, his neighbours on Peatt Road have been great and all of the feedback he’s received has been positive.

“We’re the last little bit of old Langford here, holding out. So, I thought I’d do something a little bit different,” Berbenuik said.

“I was born and raised in Langford and now I’m 32 and I’m still here but Langford has changed. I’ve been in this house for about 12 years and, hopefully, I can stay here a few more years, but in the end, I think this is all going to be apartments,” he said, surveying the street.

It was about 12 years ago, as Berbenuik recalled, that Langford put in the intersection by his home and changed Peatt Road from a “quiet little dead-end street with no sidewalks or anything” to the busy roadway it is today.

Berbenuik enjoys looking at the past and bringing bits of it home from the scrap yard. In addition to the Tonka trucks, he has antique gas cans, the rotor from an old helicopter, a few steel hubcaps and more including a 1970s vintage Chevy Cutlass that he brought home from the scrap yard and fully restored.

It’s now in mint condition and could easily roll off Berbenuik’s driveway into the Langford of yesterday.