For the months of June and July, we are thrilled to present a series of blog posts by Collections Intern Rebeka Beganova. Rebeka (she/her) is a post-secondary student with a passion for research, literature, and history. Having completed an Associate of Arts Degree at Okanagan College, she is glad to be joining the MAV team during her last summer in Vernon before heading off to UBC Vancouver. There is no better way to say goodbye to her hometown than to explore its local history!

A black-and-white photo of a the front of end of a bus; a woman wearing a long skirt is standing in front of it,
One of the very first Greyhound buses in the Okanagan, photographed in 1930.

For those Vernonites accustomed to traveling across BC, whether for work or for leisure, the Greyhound is likely a fond memory. The cross-province bus line was a long-standing staple for local residents, and its impact is not surprising – the Greyhound arrived amid the early stages of road construction and consistently stressed comfort, convenience, and cost-efficiency as the pillars of modern transportation.

Setting the Stage

Greyhound Lines (BC) Limited announced its debut in the Okanagan in July of 1930. It offered two round trips a day, connecting Kamloops, Vernon, Penticton, Oroville, and many points in between. From its very first newspaper ads, the Greyhound boasted modernity. Indeed, it arrived on a half-paved scene (literally) that contrasted the enormity of such a far-reaching bus line. For context, West Side Road was still being widened the year the Greyhound was established; the highway to Kamloops would not be constructed for another two decades; and the first car to reach the Silver Star summit would not do so until nine years later.

A black-and-white photo of a small bus with curtains. Several men with suitcases are standing in front of it.
New recruits arriving by Greyhound bus at Camp Vernon for their military training, photographed ca. 1940.

The very first round trip ran from Kamloops to Kelowna. It was a momentous day – the bus collected representatives from Vernon and surrounding areas, offered them luxurious deep-cushioned wicker seats, and treated them to the most scenic route in the Okanagan. This early form of the Greyhound bus consisted of two stages and room for twenty occupants. Claims about modernity and comfort were seemingly fulfilled, as one newspaper reported a pleasantly cool ride “despite the fact that the thermometer was flirting with the hundred mark.” The local representatives arrived together at a banquet at the Royal Anne Hotel where they congratulated the Greyhound on its forward-thinking initiative.

An Abrupt ending

More than 80 years later, in October of 2018, the last BC Greyhound bus ran its course. The announcement three months prior detailing the termination of the route upset Vernon residents and officials alike. Much compensation was needed to provide alternative transportation for those reliant on the bus line, and fast: the decision by Greyhound was apparently unpleasantly abrupt and one-sided, according to the BC Minister of Transportation. Some chalked the suddenly cool move up to the fact that the Greyhound was, after all, an American line (the route between Vancouver and Seattle remained in operation past 2018). Greyhound representatives cited a drop in ridership since 2010 and “unsustainable routes” as the reasons behind the termination.

Despite the rather stiff conclusion to the Greyhound’s time in BC, its impact and significant beginnings cement it as an invaluable piece of Vernon history. The bus line welded together Okanagan cities that were, in the 1930s, considered quite distant. There is no doubt that the Greyhound has been responsible for countless personal and professional connections that have since flourished across the province.

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!

Rebeka Beganova, Collections Intern