Greyhound Canada announced May 13 it was closing operations permanently after more than a century of operation. (Black Press file photo)

Greyhound Canada announced May 13 it was closing operations permanently after more than a century of operation. (Black Press file photo)

COLUMN: Goodbye to a never forgotten friend

Greyhound bus trips played a big role in columnist’s life

It was 5, 5:30 in the morning. Sun was coming up over the Coast Mountains the Friday before Labour Day in 1981. My friend Andrew and I had gotten a couple of hours of sleep.

The voice announced over the system “NEW WESTMINSTER” – though, really, not too loudly because there were people still asleep. Still, it was enough to roust me.

“Andrew, we’re here, New West,” I said to my pal. Andrew and I met in high school in 1979 and became instant friends. We had graduated in June and here we were, the two of us, leaving our lives behind in Vernon and about to start college life in the big city. Andrew studying law at UBC, me studying broadcasting at BCIT. We’re still friends to this day. He’s a lawyer, I’m a reporter.

Andrew rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, looked out the window and said, “This isn’t New Westminster,” and closed his eyes again.

“But big guy,” I replied. “The driver said it’s New West.”

“It’s not,” Andrew, the straight-A student, said after another glance out the window.

After Andrew’s reassurance, I still didn’t feel comfortable. As the driver rolled on, I looked out the window past a dozing Andrew and there, on the dock of the New Westminster Greyhound station, were the worldly possessions of Andrew and I.

“STOP THE BUS, THIS IS OUR STOP,” I yelled, waking everybody on the bus, including Andrew, and the two of us raced from near the back of the bus out the Greyhound door to a chorus of blue language to collect our luggage. We were both awake and alert now after our all-night bus ride through the Hope-Princeton Highway – no Coquihalla in 1981.

I was reminded of this and many other stories when word came out Thursday, May 13, that Greyhound Canada was shutting down all of its remaining bus routes in Canada, permanently, after going a full year without revenue.

The legendary bus carrier pulled out of Western Canada in 2018. Greyhound Canada has been in operation in one form or another for more than 100 years.

I didn’t have a car at college, so Greyhound was my way of getting home to Vernon for holidays. Usually, all-night trips which included fantastic food at Greyhound depots in Princeton and Penticton, and a between-there stop on the side of the road to drop off parcels in Hedley.

Same was true when I moved north to begin my radio career in Quesnel. I’ve never been a fan of winter driving, so going home at Christmas I’d take the all-night bus which left Quesnel at 2 a.m. I’d usually have a fantastic hamburger and fries at the Quesnel depot before boarding. The Quesnel depot was always great to go to after a night of clubbing and the munchies struck.

In Kamloops, on a bus changeover, I got on a newer model that had video terminals and would show movies, similar to airplanes. I remember pulling into Vernon and telling my brother, who was there to pick me up, to head to Lake Country and get me there because the movie – Peggy Sue Got Married – wasn’t over and I wanted to see how it ended.

Memories of cigarette smoke haze over the seats as you could smoke on the bus. Memories of some nice, beautiful, and weird strangers who sat beside me on nearly full buses. Memories of some great conversations that helped while away the hours on the ‘iron lung.’ At the time, for me, it was a safe, inexpensive way to travel.

That’s all that’s left now, memories. Thanks, Greyhound. You played a big part in this boy’s life.

READ MORE: AT RANDOM: And when I die


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.


Just Posted

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Nine exhibits representing the commercial core of downtown Salmon Arm in 1910 are pictured here at R.J. Haney’s Heritage Village & Museum. (Facebook - R.J. Haney’s Heritage Village & Museum)
‘The Shuswap’s largest heritage site,’ R.J. Haney’s Village and Museum, opens to public

Haney’s restaurant, Sprig of Heather, and Children’s Discovery Centre are open as well

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

Teslyn Bates, a Grade 11 student at Salmon Arm Secondary, was among four musicians from the Shuswap who won awards at the 2021 Virtual Performing Arts BC Festival held June 1-5. (Contributed)
Province takes note of young Shuswap musicians at June festival

Four local contestants receive awards at 2021 Virtual Performing Arts BC Festival

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society plans to hold a vigil on Friday, June 25 at 8 p.m. to honour the victims of what officials are calling a terrorist attack on five Muslims in London, Ont. (File photo)
Salmon Arm council holds minute of silence to honour victims of Ontario attack

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society plans vigil for Muslim family on June 25, 8 p.m. at McGuire Lake

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

New trial date set for Penticton beach attacker’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

Travel Penticton went to city council for support in increasing the tax on short-term stays to fund a convention bureau and affordable housing. (File photo)
Travel Penticton seeks to grow through increased hotel tax

The increased funds would go to creating a convention bureau and to affordable housing

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read