Fuel-Based Buses

CVA 586-4372 - Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-4372 – Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman.  The bus was painted in olive or grey (it’s hard to be sure which in this black and white photo). CVA doubtless arrived at the year for this photo from the poster applied (with tape!) to the rear of the bus above: a March of Dimes campaign poster for 1946. The poster at the front of the bus (apparently purposely obscuring the “B. C. Electric Railway” logo) seems to be anti-littering propaganda.

The buses shown above and below¹ are some very early examples of transit that was powered by fuel (rather than electricity, as with the electric railway or trolleys). According to Kelly & Francis in Transit in British Columbia: The First Hundred Years, by the start of WWII, the bus fleet in Vancouver numbered 25:

Transit was so heavily used during the war that the government’s war allocations board in Ottawa became responsible for new bus orders for all Canadian cities. The board was headed by Sig Sigmundson, who later became transportation manager for the BCER. Buses began arriving in Vancouver painted their wartime colours of olive green or grey, and were quickly placed in service. (p. 89)

The location where the buses were parked seems to have been the Cambie Garage which was situated on Cambie between 14th and 16th Avenues (thanks to Angus McIntyre for his comment below which made note of this and other details).

CVA 586-4371 - Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-4371 – Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman. The poster at the rear of the bus appears to be for a popular drink: Kik. The poster at the front of the bus seems to be for Vaudeville performances by Lili St. Cyr. Tom Carter has shared with me that, at this time, St. Cyr was playing at the Beacon/Odeon Theatre (on Hastings). Thanks, Tom!


¹These images may be the same bus, photographed from different angles.

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4 Responses to Fuel-Based Buses

  1. Sheila says:

    What a drab looking little bus! :0/

  2. Angus McIntyre says:

    This photo was taken at the old Cambie Garage, on the west side of Cambie Street between 14th. and 16th. Avenues. There was an open parking area on the west side of the building, where Ash Street would be, but isn’t. Cambie Shops was a bus overhaul shop until the Burnaby Overhaul facility opened in 1986:


    Until Oakridge Transit Centre opened in 1948, buses also operated from Cambie. As part of my training to be a bus driver in 1969 we were given a full tour of this facility, and I visited it from time to time until it closed. A condominium/retail complex now occupies the site.

    The gasoline powered Ford Transit bus is certainly drab, and likely olive green. But Lili St. Cyr was anything but drab:


    Kik Cola was a Canadian soft drink.

    • mdm says:

      Thanks much, Angus, for commenting. Your correction to my original text as to the location where these shots were made was especially appreciated!

  3. John M Day says:

    The purpose of the original photos was to demonstrate what exterior advertising would look like on city buses. This was a “new” idea in 1946, hence the posters have been taped in position for the photographs. That is why the B.C.E.R. name is partly obscured. Later, permanent frames would be attached to the buses; at first these were small, about the same size as the posters in these photos, later evolving to larger frames, culminating in the over-all vinyl wraps that we see today.

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