Dozens of trucks, cabs and trailers that made up the fleet of Halifax Transfer will be sold at receivers auction Saturday, ending a run that started in 1896, when Sir Wilfred Laurier was first elected Prime Minister of Canada and the horse and buggy ruled the road.

In May, the venerable trucking and moving business fell victim to changes in the marketplace, including the downward spiral of another business institution, Sears.

"The retail landscape has changed and so has the supplier network," said receiver David Boyd of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Owes $2 million

Halifax Transfer was placed in receivership by its lender, the Bank of Nova Scotia, which is owed $1.6 million. In total, about $2 million is owed to secured creditors like the bank. There are an estimated 25 to 30 unsecured creditors.

Boyd said a variety of factors drove Halifax Transfer under.

"There was lower contracts awarded for cross-country shipments for large customers such as DND [Department of National Defence] or the federal government. They were a supplier for Sears Home delivery at one point, which was a good portion of their business," he said. 

Halifax Transfer

Halifax Transfer Burnside offices on Oct. 12. The company shut down in May after being placed in receivership by the Bank of Nova Scotia. (Paul Withers/CBC)

The company provided home delivery for three to four large retailers.

In addition to dwindling deliveries for Sears, another major retailer did not renew a contract with Halifax Transfer, which was part of the United Van Lines network.

Boyd says the receiver determined the best chance of recovering money for creditors was to shut down and sell assets.

"There were substantial costs to continuing to operate that company," he said.

New owners took over 2 years ago

The demise of Halifax Transfer came two years after new management took over the company.

Accountant Mark Marshall bought the Burnside-based company in 2015. He left a partner position at national accounting firm Collins Barrow to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations. Marshall had advised Halifax Transfer for eight years.

Marshall referred questions from CBC News to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

At the time of the purchase, the company had 75 full- and part-time employees and operations throughout the Maritimes.

Halifax Transfer website

The Halifax Transfer website was taken down Oct. 12, four months after the company went under. (Screenshot of Halifax Transfer website)

The receiver says most employees were quickly hired by other companies for the 2017 moving season, which typically begins in late spring.

On Friday, potential bidders will get a chance to kick the tires — literally — on the dozens of half-ton and five-ton trucks, tractor-trailer cabs, chassis and 53-foot trailers that made up company rolling stock.

Saturday's auction will be held by Auction Advantage with bids on site at its Woodside operation and live online.

Although Halifax Transfer ceased operating as of May 30, 2017, the company website was shut down only Thursday and the Halifax Port Authority says it will be removing Halifax Transfer from its website listing suppliers.