The Queen of Canadian Trucking: Viola Florence Erb (1934-2022)

White funeral flowers on a grey marble tomb

Just 2 weeks ago Canada’s Queen Elizabeth passed away. Sadly a week later, Canada lost the lady that many considered to be the Queen of Canadian trucking, Viola Florence Erb, the matriarch of the Erb trucking empire.

Viola Florence Erb passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at her residence in Baden, Ontario. Viola was born fittingly for trucking royalty in Duchess Alberta on July 2, 1934.

Viola chose to further her education at the Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Institute in Kitchener. While singing in a trio there, she met her future husband Vernon, the President of the Fireside Youth Group. By the end of the year, they were married. 

While Vernon’s driving ambition was for the trucking industry, Viola’s firm and steady hand on the business wheel, helped guide them toward achieving their goals. During those early days, Viola was the dispatcher, bookkeeper, and payroll officer, while Vernon was on the road. They were a team in every sense. No doubt it could not have been the easiest of roads as they worked together to build their trucking company.

Like a dedicated mother, Erb Transport became one of her most cherished children, one that she was constantly overseeing and attending. Once in 1980, she tried to retire, but that did not last long. Her care and dedication were evident in her work as she balanced the books down to the penny. Eventually, she became comfortable knowing the company was in good hands without her daily presence. Decades of devotion and commitment to family and business would never end. 

Viola made perhaps one of her most poignant and lasting contributions to ERB Transport when she coined the slogan “Another Cool Move”. Some would say Another Cool Move was a piece of marketing genius, and it is. It has become a fixture on every Erb trailer ever since. The simple message and truth of those words will remain a remembrance of her and the company she co-founded with Vernon in 1959. 

In her later years, Viola’s dedicated her retirement to quilting and gardening. In later years, her gardening efforts became more of a challenge, but her quilting and knitting never let up. Like her dedication to family and business, her quilting was motivated by her love and commitment to the church. Everything she crafted was either donated or given away to the less fortunate. Often their winter trip to Florida would be postponed, as Viola cited her commitments at church as the reason not to leave just yet. Her faith in the Lord was a guiding principle throughout her life. 

Viola Florence Erb will be remembered as a strong and caring lady who led by example and left her enduring mark on Canadian trucking. She helped found a Canadian corporate trucking icon. Her dedication and commitment to family, career, and God were second to none. She was the Queen of Canadian Trucking. May she rest in peace.

While a teenager Tony was fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue his love of aviation and began a career began in the airline world during his days in high school and university as he grew up in Toronto. After completing University at Guelph he moved to Ottawa, following a path in urban agriculture and environmental awareness. He shared his insights for over 2 decades as he appeared on TV, and radio, as the "Plant D octor", and operating his own business in horticulture. Later he reentered the transport industry and became involved in the manufacture and marketing of sustainable fuel-saving and safety products for the truck industry. He is director of an African American art collection based in Washington D.C. Today he writes passionately about transportation, sustainability, concerns of our modern-day world, and the intrigue of the human condition.