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Paul “Willy” Williamson joined the Free Press editorial team in 2007, turning his back on a career as a corrections officer. His motor has been running non-stop ever since.
Throughout the past seven years, his popular Willy’s Garage column has brought readers on the road with him to car shows, motorcycle rallies and an assortment of automotive adventures that have spanned clear across North America.
Willy has also reviewed a shiny fleet of new vehicles on our behalf and in 2012 was runner-up for the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual journalist of the year award.
Although he is best known for his automotive antics, Willy is also a dedicated member of the Free Press production team and assists in the weekly layout of the Autos and Homes sections.
Willy’s journey into the exciting world of journalism was helped greatly by longtime family friend and now retired Winnipeg Sun editor in chief Bill Davidson. Back in 1999 at a family wedding, Davidson quipped, “Willy, you’re quasi-intelligent. Can you write?” He was hired later that night.
Willy’s first stint as a writer/photographer with the Sun was as his alter ego Big Blue Willy, a rabid Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan with a blue face and a gold hard hat. For two seasons, he covered the Bombers from a fan’s perspective and has the scars to prove it.
In 2001, Willy’s Garage was born and to date, more than 500 articles with topics ranging from demolition derbies to winter driving adventures in Alaska have been methodically typed out one finger at a time.
Willy has also hosted his own TV series on MTS TV and is a longtime musician who fronts the aptly named local band The Gearheads.
Throughout the summer months Willy is the host of Sunday Night Cruise at the Grant Park Pony Corral. He is also a proud member of the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba, the Manitoba Street Rod Association and the Riff Raff Car Club.
Cars, trucks, motorcycles and music may occupy most of his time, but Willy is also an avid picker. His auction prowess and unique ability to transform junk into art was showcased nationally on the TV series, Buy it, Fix It, Sell It.