Students from Ruskin and Whonnock.

Looking Back: What if no school buses?

It started with the busing of students to MacLean High School in Haney in the fall of 1926.

No school buses any more when the schools open this fall? It is hard to imagine because the school bus has been part of our lives for so long.

It started with the busing of students to MacLean High School in Haney in the fall of 1926.

In the school yearbook of 1928, one of the students from Ruskin, Dorothy Thorsteinson, describes the ride with that first school bus to Haney and back home. The trip probably began at the Ruskin school. The bus went along 96th Avenue (there was still a bridge across Whonnock Creek) to Whonnock, where more students boarded the bus at the post office. The trip continued on River Road to Albion (Lougheed Highway was not built yet) and up 240th, “the tortuous Baker Road.”

Then the bus turned west into Dewdney Trunk Road, continuing to pick up students on the way and dropping everyone off at the school that stood on the northwest corner of the parking area at today’s library on Dewdney Trunk Road. After delivering the youngsters at the school, the bus went on to Hammond to collect more students.

Dorothy describes the bus as “… like any moving van: large, neatly made, coloured grey, with windows on each side. One woman very unkindly remarked it resembled a chicken house. [Someone else remembered that the windows of the bus were covered with chicken wire.] Inside there were three long benches which in spite of their padding and covering are still hard …

“When the van leaves Ruskin, it contains only a few students, who sway from side to side and bounce up and down, while going over the bad roads. Indeed, it would be even more uncomfortable, were it not for our excellent driver who tries to find the best spots in the road. Soon we come to Whonnock, which is a more populous district. Here more students board the van. Trouble begins if the day is rainy for each student tries to seat himself away from the windows, through which the rain pours …

“One day on the way to school, a student annoyed others by pulling ties. A jury and judge were quickly appointed and the culprit brought before him. He was found guilty and sentenced to a thrashing, in which all the boys took part. The girls, of course, are always well behaved. The boys are not and it disturbs them to see anyone quiet and peaceful …

“As the van nears the school it is filled to the door with boys and girls, all busy chattering. School bags and cases are kicked about by everyone, with angry protests from the owners …

“After arriving at school, the van goes to Hammond to pick up more students and we enter by the back door [of the school]. In the wintertime, we would wait patiently on the front steps, but when it was realized how cold we were, the back door was left open …

“The crowded ride is repeated [in the afternoon] and we arrive in Ruskin at four-thirty, or on late nights at five-thirty, and then walk a quarter of a mile to home, and a good hot supper.”

It is sad to know that, after 90 years, school busing will come to an end.


– By Fred Braches, a local historian who lives in Whonnock.


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