Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Don Crosbie was a Winnipeg institution

  • Print

When Don Crosbie, the longtime owner and operator of Don's Towing, bought his first tow truck in the early 1970s, he likely never imagined that he would one day become a Winnipeg institution.

Last week when Crosbie died at 68, however, that's exactly what he was.

"My dad made friends everywhere he went," recalled Crosbie's son, Jeff. "When I was a kid, it amazed me how many friends he had, everyone in Winnipeg knew my dad and his blue Chevrolet tow truck."

Although he had a few trucks over the years and was most recently operating a newer black Chevrolet rig, Crosbie's original tow truck, a blue 1970 Chevrolet that was aptly nicknamed the Blue Mule, was a big part of his legend. Sometimes Crosbie and his beast of burden were simply helping out a motorist in need or towing cars for local garages, but the lion's share of his business was the removal of unwanted cars. Most were hauled off to the shredder.

Don was a longtime friend of mine and when he spoke of his early years in the tow business he would get a twinkle in his eye when he recalled all the precious metal he hauled away to the big junkyard in the sky. "If only I'd have kept a few, I'd be a rich man," he told me many times with a chuckle.

One car Crosbie did save was the Chickenmobile. A couple of summers ago when my friend Dave Radey and I resurrected it, Crosbie came up to me at a car show and offered that he had saved it from the shredder more than 20 years earlier.

"The car was in pretty rough shape so Chicken Delight boss Otto Koch told me to haul it away. He also asked me to make sure it got shredded because he didn't want the competition getting their hands on it," Crosbie said with a grin. "It was too neat to shred so we hid it at my friend's shop."

That was what was so great about Don Crosby: He may have had a job to do, but sometimes he realized cars were worth so much more than simply the value of the scrap metal. In addition to saving many neat old cars and finding good homes for them if he picked up an old car with a few good parts remaining, he was quick to call on his countless friends in the car hobby to pick the car clean before it was shredded.

In addition to his legendary status as a tow truck owner and operator, Crosbie was also a longtime classic car buff and member of both the Manitoba Street Rod Association and the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba. Don and his wife, Kathleen, were fixtures at local car shows and cruise nights and loved to show off their prized 1954 Monarch.

A service was held this week to pay tribute to Crosbie, who died of a heart attack. At press time, his son Jeff was working feverishly to get his dad's old Blue Mule tow truck ready in time. It has been off the road for a number of years and had to be yanked out of a snowbank. Other local tow truck operators were also expected to be in attendance with beacons flashing to pay tribute to Winnipeg's most colourful tow truck operator.

"He will be missed by so many, added son Jeff. "That's why it means so much to us to have his old truck at the service. It was his trademark, and seeing it will make us all feel like he's still with us."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2012 F7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Bartley Kives breaks down latest news in CentreVenture and Carlton Street hotel deal

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the EPC's decision to release construction company Stuart Olson from its hotel-building obligation?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google