Yan Tremblay has a broad grin on his face as he sits at the campfire with his boys. The soft crackling of the burning wood blends in with the relaxing sound of waves. The father, his sons and this unique bond – it all comes together on this evening. The new month brings the beginning of the vacation season. This means van time for the Tremblays. Once again they enjoy getting together in the summer. Meanwhile a necessary ritual for the Canadian family: They escape from their day-to-day lives whenever the opportunity presents itself. With their Sprinter 2500, the three men can head out to all the places that represent free time for them.
In the past, this kind of close bond was not always possible. “I used to have two jobs and I was always on the road and busy,” says Yan Tremblay, referring to his time as a fireman with a second job. The good relationship with his children suffered. Talking with his son, Loan, provided the inspiration: the four-year-old complained to his father that he never spent time with the family. “I asked him what he would like to do,” says Yan Tremblay. His son wanted his father to make a long-standing dream come true: to build a camper van and then travel. Two weeks later, they owned a van and drove to Newfoundland.
This big step was the start of a new family ritual and the future nickname of the Tremblay Formation. By chance, Yan discovered the “Loup” (Wolf) on the rear of the camper van after he removed the van’s old sticker. “We thought it was funny and left it there. Since then, we have been known as ‘Le Loup Gris’ (the gray wolf) because our converted van was gray,” reminisces the leader of the travelling pack from Montreal.
My youngest son recently said the most incredible thing. He said we should sell the house and live in the camper van instead.
In 2015, the first van was followed by a second with all-wheel drive. “For the tough Canadian winter,” as the eternally young father explains. The new camper needed to meet all of the needs of the essential Tremblay trip. Yan Tremblay carried out the entire conversion himself – apart from the electricity. Vague dreams gave rise to the first drawings and then everything followed in a cascade. “Windows, fans, insulation, reinforced flooring, heating systems, interior fittings and roof carriers,” he says, describing the major steps of the conversion. I am proud of the fact that 90% of the wood in the camper van is recycled,” says Yan Tremblay, who was often reminded of his own father as he worked. From his father, he once learned what it means to make lasting things with his own hands.
This enthusiasm for craftsmanship and sense of responsibility toward nature were major parts of the way Loan and Lenny Tremblay were raised. Without any further prompting, the boys grab bags and pick up the garbage on a beach before they start to chop up the wood for their campfire. Yan Tremblay is proud of his boys.
From father to son – Yan embodies this way of life with deep conviction. The van is the product of this philosophy. “My youngest son recently said the most incredible thing. He said we should sell the house and live in the camper van instead,” he says. Then he is still and suddenly Yan Tremblay’s special grin is back again.