LABRADOR CITY, N.L.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
You can’t blame people for taking a second look as they see a shiny red rickshaw effortlessly gliding through the streets of Labrador City.
The rickshaw, a two-wheeled vehicle with a covered canopy for passengers is usually pulled by one person. They are predominately used in Asian countries. So how did one end up in Labrador City? Interesting story.
As the rickshaw slowly makes its way up Vanier Ave., you can see the name Kailey artistically painted on the back of the rickshaw, along with a small butterfly, symbolic perhaps of freedom.
The idea of the rickshaw occurred to Fraser Drover and his wife, the parents of Kailey, who has cerebral palsy.
“We usually took Kailey out in her chair, but there were issues at times, with steep grades, issues with roads and other impediments,” Drover told The Aurora. “Then we saw an ad on a website for an electric assisted rickshaw, and we contacted the person selling it, thinking it would provide more opportunities to get out with our daughter.”
And last summer things went well. But then the machine stopped working and the Drover’s decided to buy a new machine.
The electric rickshaw was purchased from China, which Drover explained was a piece of work on its own.
Making the order and paying for it required a substantial amount of paper work and protocol to be followed.
Then arrangements were made to have it shipped to Vancouver and from there to Montreal. Once in Montreal a broker had to be found to get it out of customs. Drover had assistance from a woman in Montreal who was helpful with that, and in no time at all, it was in Labrador City and ready to be uncrated.
“It’s great,” Drover said. “The unit has lots of power; it can reach 25 kmph, and can climb hills with ease. It has four batteries, with electric motor assist. It also has seven gears which allow me to pedal the rickshaw like a bicycle.
“I take Kailey out almost every good day. It’s a pleasant way to get around and to see around you. She loves it and so do I.”
There’s lots of reaction when people see them drive by.
“They wave or honk the horn,” he said. “Some people aren’t sure how to react, until they realize it’s like a big bicycle.”
They get lots of looks when they go through a drive-through.
That idea of a pleasant peaceful ride gave the Drover’s the idea that some people, like seniors, may enjoy an hour or so slow drive through town.
“I contacted a long-time friend of the family, offered a ride,” explained Drover, and the rest is history. “Then I offered to take long-time resident and well-known senior Joan Stamp for a tour around town. When I take people all I ask is they tell me a story.”
Drover said it’s a great way to socialize, and for him a way to learn much about the early days of the town, and the people who live there. If other seniors or people with mobility issues would like to see the town by Rickshaw it’s as easy as contacting Drover, and he will make it happen.
“Don’t be hesitant,” he said. “Kailey enjoys sharing her rickshaw.”
Drover also operates an electric bike and kayak rental business. He’s thinking of adding electric trikes for people who may enjoy a leisure drive through town, which may be difficult using a regular bicycle.
Meanwhile, when you see the rickshaw moving through town, smile and wave.