Hugh Rowland is one of the stars of the History Channel reality series Ice Road Truckers. Ice road trucker Hugh has been featured on all six previous seasons of the show, and stands to be centrally featured in one of the primary story lines of the seventh season in 2013.
Background and Experience
Hugh was born in 1957, making him a veteran of the ice road trucking industry. He has more than 20 years experience driving on ice roads. During the duration of the show, he has driven routes on Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, the Dalton Highway and Manitoba’s winter roads.
Hugh lives in Kelowna, which is a city in the southern interior of British Columbia. His trucking company is also based in this area. His nickname within industry circles is “The Polar Bear.” He’s proud of this name, saying it was bestowed on him because of his attitude and stamina. Throughout the show, he has delivered an above-average number of loads each season despite having problems with his truck and issues getting along with supervisors during several seasons.
Personality and Reception
Ice road trucker Hugh is known for his arrogant attitude and disregard of rules and regulations. He seems to fancy himself a truck driving cowboy of sorts. His primary concerns are making as much money as he can and making others miserable. If he has to break rules and take chances that most others would not, he is willing to do that.
His ego makes him a difficult employee, and many of his drivers have found him to be hard to get along with as a supervisor as well. While he has shared his experience with many other ice road drivers, he has no problem turning on a friend. And once he’s holding a grudge against you, there’s a good chance you’re going to pay.
In many ways, Hugh plays a villain’s role on the show. He’s the one the fans can’t stop watching. They cheer for him to succeed, but they also love to hate him.
Season six ended with a decisive split between Hugh and his employer, Mark Kohaykewych at Polar Industries. For Season Seven, Hugh has again taken control of his own trucking company. He’s set up shop near the Polar headquarters, and hired a new stable of drivers to cover the ice roads for his new venture, VP Express.
VP Express is running three trucks, delivering goods to small, isolated communities throughout Manitoba. In addition to Hugh, the drivers include 15-year ice road veteran Art Burke and rookie Todd Dewey. With millions of dollars on the line, Todd will have to overcome a steep learning curve with Hugh looking over his shoulder. Art has spent his entire career driving diamond mine roads, and is making his debut in Manitoba.
In true ice road trucker Hugh fashion, he’s out for vengeance this year. His grudge against Mark should keep him fired up for most of the season, and he has vowed to take over the Manitoba winter roads. He talks openly of running Polar Industries out of business, or at least off to another ice road route outside of Manitoba.