Greyhound in British Columbia

Kootenay Valley Transportation Company

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Kootenay Valley Transportation Company - Greyhound in British Columbia

Kootenay Valley Transportation was formed in 1928 combining Learmonth Motor Bus Lines, which began running Nelson to Balfour in 1922 and later extended to serve Nelson to Trail until 1928, and Chas. Clark's Slocan-Nelson Stage and Herb Harrop's run from Kaslo to Nelson.

As of Jan. 15 1929 the Olson brothers from Victoria bought this operation for $7500. Later in Nov. 1929, a Yellow Coach(GMC) salesman, George Fay, became a partner of Barney and Speed and the company was re-incorporated as Canadian Greyhound Coaches(BC) Ltd. After the sale of Kootenay Valley to the Olson's, John Learmonth went to work running the body shop for Peeble's Motors. By Spring 1931 John had built a 7 passenger Chrysler just in time for the opening of the road beyond Slocan City to Nakusp and was back in the bus business. John's name had not been on the agreement with the Olson's so he had to be bought out again. G.B.Fay and Speed moved to Calgary as they were expanding east,John was hired in Aug.1931 and was Nelson Division Superintendent until retiring in 1965. When service began in 1930 through the Crow, the company was incorporated in Alberta as Central Canadian Greyhound Coaches. This company lasted until 1940 when the Olson brothers wanted to sell out. The CPR was approached as a buyer but nothing came of it. The American company was interested and the Greyhound Corp. purchased the shares of Barney Olson for $325,000 and Speed's shares netted him $270,000. George Fay wasn't interested in selling and remained a minority shareholder holding twenty percent of the shares and remaining in charge for about another fifteen years. The Greyhound Corporation was majority owner of the new company incorporated Nov. 1940, the Western Canadian Greyhound Lines Ltd.

During the war years troubles were encountered due to fuel and tire rationing and the Transit board deemed some services unessential. However this also gave George Fay an opportunity to acquire four other operators in BC. Between 1941 and 1945 WCGLines bought out BC Greyhound Lines of Penticton, a portion of BC Coach Lines of Kamloops and two companies with licenses in the Cariboo giving Western Canadian licenses south from Prince George to the International Border. In the early 1950's Western Greyhound, a part of the U.S. Corporation bought the licenses of the Pacific Stage Lines, a subsidiary of the BC Electric to service the Vancouver-Seattle route. July 1 1959 Western Canadian Greyhound Lines was absorbed into a new company, Greyhound Lines of Canada. In 1960 four former Greyhound driver's partnered to form Prince Coach Lines with a license to serve Prince George to Prince Rupert.This successful venture was bought in 1965 by Canadian Coachways, the Collins brothers former company from Edmonton. The year before, Coachways had bought Northern Stages of Prince George which ran the Hart Highway service to Dawson Creek. Coachways were now awaiting the opening of highway 16 EAST between Prince George and McBride and the completion of the Yellowhead Highway 5 where they had a portion of the old BC Coach lines license. Knowing the strong possibility of a competitor between Jasper and Kamloops,the Coachways system also had a license between Kamloops and Princeton, giving them an opportunity to serve Edmonton to Vancouver, Greyhound bought Canadian Coachways in Jan. 1970 eliminating this concern. Canadian Coachways had previously taken over the White Pass and Yukon bus service on the Alaska Highway much earlier, so Greyhound Lines of Canada covered most of the interior of British Columbia.

Miss Balfour taken in Nelson, BC

Nelson Division with Marcus Dow Trophy 1950

The drivers’ names are: John Learmonth (Superintendent), Eddie McGregor, Lawrence "Blondie" Johnson, Pat McKinney, Neil McLean and Frank Bach.

Greyhound bus #31 plowing snow at Nelson, BC depot ca 1937.
Photo by Bert Learmonth.

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