• Trucking over ice requires nerves of steel, patience, leadership and driving skills, as well as knowing how to deal with drama and rivalries.
• Hugh Rowland left the show in 2014 after being injured in a car accident with a producer.
• His whereabouts are unknown, but he published a book in 2010.
• He started working at the age of 11 and debuted on the show in 2012.
• He was never paid for his first season, but was later given a truck and an undisclosed salary.
Trucking over ice is not an easy task, as it requires nerves of steel, patience, leadership and some master-level driving skills. However, if there’s something we have learned about History’s “Ice Road Truckers”, it’s that the job also requires knowing how to deal with huge amounts of drama and rivalries, all while trying not to let fame go to their heads.
While the audience was even used to seeing truckers argue season after season, no one could have imagined some difficult things were happening off-camera too. Such is the case of Hugh Rowland, whose exit from the show was surrounded by a big scandal which had some pretty dark consequences.
So whatever happened to him? Why did Hugh leave the show, and where is he today? Keep with us to discover all about this controversial “Ice Road Truckers” cast member!
What Happened To Him?
Hugh Rowland was never a man to be taken lightly while on the road. On top of his vast experience behind the wheel, the so-called Polar Bear was also quite wise on the business side, and always had something to say, especially if he saw his job hindered by the inefficiency of others.
Whether people loved or hated him, Hugh was impossible to ignore throughout the several seasons he was in “Ice Road Truckers”, making his exit from the series in 2014 all the more surprising, but there were actually good reasons for him not to return to the show.
As it happened, Hugh suffered a serious accident while in the passenger seat of a truck with Will Morrison, an “Ice Road Truckers” producer who was apparently driving recklessly before crashing into some trees on a Canadian road, as Hugh claimed.
The injuries Hugh suffered to the lower part of his body hindered his ability to normally drive, obviously affecting his job, and on top of all that, also ruined his marital life, as he asserted in the lawsuit he filed against the show. Given this accident and its consequences, it’s unsurprising that Hugh wasn’t featured in the show afterwards.
Where Is Hugh Now?
Unfortunately, not a lot is known about Hugh Rowland’s current whereabouts.
His Facebook account hasn’t been updated since September 2011, and he doesn’t appear to have any other social media accounts, making it very difficult to know what is going on with his life.
Regarding his trucking business VP Express, the company’s website and social media have been inactive for a while, but some online directories still list the business as active in the Winnipeg area, in Manitoba, Canada. As well, the outcome of Hugh’s lawsuit against History channel is still unknown, leaving us to think his case was either dismissed or that the parties came to an out of court settlement. Either way, we miss seeing Hugh on our TV screens.
Did He Published A Book?
Long before he left “Ice Road Truckers” for good, in 2010, Hugh Rowland released his book “On Thin Ice: Breakdowns, Whiteouts, and Survival on the World’s Deadliest Roads”. Written in collaboration with Michael Lent, Hugh’s book relates not only his on-road adventures, but also his beginnings in the field, how he grew his business, and mostly previously unknown details about his family.
As expected from Hugh, he also openly addressed his experience in “Ice Road Truckers”, not afraid of admitting that he’d created the book as a way to express his feelings regarding his portrayal in the show: ‘Instead of getting pissed off about what the show was saying about me and the other truckers, I decided to write about it’, he said in an interview with Shelf Awareness.
“On Thin Ice” sold very well, and is probably one of the most sincere, straightforward and in depth ways his fans got to know who Hugh really is.
Surprisingly enough, Hugh Rowland’s job experience began when he was 11 years old. As he recalled in his book “On Thin Ice”, at such an early age he took a spot in a local construction operation, using those savings to buy cattle in association with his father, who supported him all the way. Of course, it’s unusual to find such a young man investing that much effort and time in growing a business, but it proves how seriously Hugh took his work, even back then.
In his early 20s, Hugh split his time working as a trucker, and building roads, resulting in him gathering enough experience to establish businesses in both fields. Even though his main motivation to work hard was money, that didn’t mean the road was easy, as he admitted in a 2010s interview: ‘I’ve lost 35 friends and relatives to the ice. Most of the truckers who’ve gone down, it was due to neglect, to lack of attention, to speeding’.
Taking such risks to get the job done seems a little bit too extreme, but it’s necessary for those who want to put food on their table.
Debut On TV
By the time Hugh Rowland debuted in “Ice Road Truckers”, he had already been working in the trucking business for three decades, but even regardless of his vast experience, being invited to appear in a TV show was unexpected, to say the least. As he told Hollywood Soap Box, the first time he was approached by History channel was over the ‘phone, but he didn’t believe a word they said, telling them to wait until the next winter to call him again: ‘I thought it was one of my buddies just making a prank joke. My God, next year they came right to my house, and put some cameras in my trucks’.
Despite the unexpectedness of it all, in 2012 Hugh was still convinced he would be doing the show for a long time: ‘I’ll probably do it until I’m not enjoying it, and I enjoy the s*** out of it right now’. Although now we know that shortly afterwards it wasn’t possible for Hugh to continue appearing on TV, he evidently made good use of his time in “Ice Road Truckers” and its spin-off “Deadliest Roads” while it lasted.
Views About the Show
Even though Hugh Rowland had many complaints regarding his portrayal in “Ice Road Truckers”, he didn’t let that negative aspect of the show get to him, expressing several times that he was doing it only for the money.
However, while Hugh’s popularity escalated, he remained a down-to-earth man. As he affirmed in an interview with Joshua Nannie on YouTube, he had no plans to pursue a luxurious life, or even move out from home, despite his popularity: ‘I’m not really famous. It’s in a reality TV show, and I don’t think anybody on reality TV is too famous’.
Regarding the changes his life went through after appearing in the series, he admitted that not a lot has changed on the personal side, except for people who recognize him in the streets. However, the dynamics in his company took a strange turn, saying his ‘drivers thought they were Hollywood superstars’ after the show’s premiere, bothering him to the point of firing them, which didn’t end up well: ‘the History channel hired them back the next season on their own, and I thought ‘oh man!’, he admitted clearly amused, but surely it wasn’t a pleasant experience when it happened.
Views About His Fellow Cast Members
Always a man to speak his mind, Hugh Rowland was known for voicing his opinions about other cast members quite freely. While fellow drivers such as Rick Yemm and Maya Sieber were on his good side, he wasn’t that kind towards Dave Redmon and others.
However, Hugh’s most known beef while on the show was with Lisa Kelly, believing that she was in the show for ratings: ‘They brought her in there so guys like me and you would watch the show’, he told Joshua Nannie on YouTube, also adding that ‘she’ll be a pretty good little trucker when they’re done with her’.
While his fellow driver Rick Yemm supported Hugh’s claims, and criticized Lisa for bringing her manager to the road, Lisa herself affirmed that she didn’t know why Hugh seemed to dislike her that much: ‘I don’t know if he really does, or if that’s just TV banter. I’ve never asked him, and don’t really care’, she told the Los Angeles Times.
Even though Hugh never actually confirmed if he actually disliked Lisa, just by recalling all the times he criticized her job, it becomes pretty obvious that he wasn’t her biggest fan, unlike most people who watched the show.
What Happened In “Deadliest Roads”?
Despite not appearing in “Deadliest Roads” first season, Hugh Rowland was more than ready to run the dangerous South American roads for the show’s second season, premiered in 2011.His adventure in Bolivia started with Rick Yemm, who soon left, leaving Hugh to drive the Death Road alone, which he managed pretty well, despite all the problems he and other drivers faced while in the country, including having to deal with local strikes: ‘(I) stood in the protest line for about an hour watching them throwing dynamite in the streets. Lotsa noise but not accomplishing much except for holding us up’, he wrote on Facebook at the time.
During his stay in Bolivia, Hugh almost crashed his truck into a local market, was race challenged twice by co-stars Timothy R. Zickuhr and Augustin Rodriguez, and was robbed of his personal camera at some point, but it was a peaceful run nonetheless.
The rest of his adventure saw him loading sheep on Peru’s deadly mountain roads, finishing his eight-weeks long trip on the top by successfully hauling dynamite and fireworks even in the face of the dangers it entailed. Despite admitting he ‘didn’t know if he was going to make it’, he ended up describing the adventure as an ‘unreal trip’.
Did Hugh Sell A Truck To Rick?
As interesting as reality TV might be, most of the time series of this genre don’t show its viewers what really happens. This is the case with the truck which Hugh Rowland supposedly sold to Rick Yemm.
As seen in “Ice Road Truckers”, Hugh sold the Western Star to Rick, who had been his side-kick behind the wheel for quite some time. However, as affirmed by Rick, this was supposedly a false plot point, elaborated by producers: ‘they push these stories to the point that we have to go along with it or we’re not involved’, he told Huliq.com.
Although he might not have sold Rick that truck, the show didn’t lie about the authenticity of Hugh’s company, VP Express. As well, Rick and Hugh’s work relationship was real all the same, and they got along quite well, to the point Rick affirmed Hugh was miss-portrayed by the show: ‘The thing is, they put him off as being this big a******, but he’s really not’, he said in regards to Hugh’s reputation as being an obnoxious person: ‘they exploit that, they want that, that it’s all about money’.
All in all, it goes beyond saying that people really shouldn’t believe everything that TV tells them.
How Much Was Hugh Paid?
Hugh Rowland was in “Ice Road Truckers” just for the money and he never had a problem about saying so. The reason he got into the business in the first place was to afford a good life for his family, but it was pretty obvious he also loved the job, and the thrill it entailed.
That being said, it’s surprising to know Hugh wasn’t paid in his first “Ice Road Truckers” season, but he always planned on making that change later down the road. Apparently, prior to the show he had in mind expanding his company’s truck float, but was unable to do so given his tight filming schedule, so when the second season came around, he gave the producers an ultimatum – they either bought him a new truck, or let him go.
It turns out that the show’s company Original Productions paid him an undisclosed salary, but failed to acquiesce his second request: ‘They made me lots of promises that they didn’t carry out’, affirmed Hugh in an interview with “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 2008.
Even though Hugh’s salary from the show is still unknown to this day, the uproar his interview with O’Brien caused turned in his favor, leaving him not only with a new truck, but even being paid for it. All in all, Hugh wasn’t only a good driver and skilled businessman, but he was undoubtedly one of the most interesting stars “Ice Road Truckers” ever featured.