For over 60 years Lambert’s Garage has served the automotive repair needs of the local community.
But July 30 will mark the end of an era, as the property on Wellington Street North will change hands and long-time owner/operators Rod and Gail Lambert will move to Harriston.
“We’ve been in it a lot of years,” Rod said. “We thought we’d try something different; maybe something a little lighter.”
He told the Community News the new owner will keep the garage open and continue to fix the vehicles of local residents – something he considered very important.
Rod’s parents Roy and Eileen Lambert moved from Acton to Drayton in 1949, when Rod was just 1 year old, and purchased a garage in the village that year. They bought the current Wellington?Street location in downtown Drayton from Carl Ellis in 1954 and moved in above the garage.
Rod completed his five-year mechanic’s apprenticeship in Moorefield and in 1972 he joined his father’s business, at the age of 24. Gail, who Rod married three years prior, started bookkeeping part time around the same time.
“Then it evolved into full time,” Gail said with a chuckle.
When Roy passed away in 1991, Rod took over the garage on his own, though he and Gail did not officially purchase the property from Eileen until 1997.
Gail and Rod, who themselves have lived above the garage for some time now, have witnessed many changes over the last four decades.
The biggest change, Rod explained, is parts that would have been rebuilt at one time are now simply replaced with new ones. He also noted the garage in recent years has moved towards a lot more diagnostics and electrical jobs.
He said cars are much better built today and require less maintenance than in the past, although current maintenance is far more costly.
Both he and Gail thought they would run the garage for three or four more years, but considering such enterprises don’t often sell quickly, they decided last June to put the property up for sale.
“Basically we just thought we’d list it,” Gail said. “We didn’t expect it to go so quickly.”
But in April an offer came in, and for the first time in almost four decades, the Lamberts started mapping out a future that didn’t include the garage.
They have purchased a home in Harriston and will move there on July 30 – but other than that, nothing is certain.
“We’re not sure,” Gail replied with a laugh when asked what’s next.
Rod said he plans on keeping active, perhaps by selling used cars.
“I can’t seem to sit still for too long – I’d have to do something,” he said.
He explained he will retain some connection with the business and the village of Drayton, as he is keeping at least one service truck from the garage and still owns an empty lot on Wellington Street.
But both he and Gail acknowledged moving to Harriston will be a huge change – and a bittersweet experience.
“It is with mixed emotions,” Gail said of the move. “Probably more so for Rod, because he was raised here … it’s a change.”
Rod added he too is having “somewhat mixed feelings” about leaving the village he has called home for over 60 years. And yet the thought of relaxing a little more helps ease any apprehension he may have about the move.
“We’ll just slow down a lot,” he said. “It will be a good change.”