It’s almost inconceivable to think of Dan Myers not being at McBride’s Service Station.
And yet, it has happened. Even Myers had to retire sometime so he and wife Wanda will have a lot more time to do things they put off during all those years in business.
“I started here when I was 13 pumping gas,” recalled Dan, who turned 62 just last week on Feb. 21.
“When I got out of high school, I did my apprenticeship.”
He finished his apprenticeship in 1980 and there was actually a short lapse in Myers’ continuity in the community when he left to spend some time in Australia and New Zealand. But he returned in 1984 and Myers has been a fixture at the Chemainus service station for 35+ years ever since.
“He’s been hanging around here forever,” conceded Wanda.
People who only came to know Dan in more recent years thought his last name must have been McBride to connect to the business name.
“I still get people call me Dan McBride,” chuckled Dan.
The service station itself has a long history in Chemainus, going back to the late 1920s and known as Chemainus Garage and other names over the years. But it obtained its claim to fame after becoming a fixture in the community as McBride’s.
Bobby McBride came over from Deo’s Garage and put his stamp on the business. Pat Allester and Norm Allen were later partners in the enterprise, and then Jim Myers (Dan’s dad) and Roy Bell Sr. bought out Allen’s shares.
Dan eventually bought in as a partner with his dad and Bell in the late ’80s. Dan and Wanda bought them out about eight years later and went on their own, taking over in ‘96-97, and the place underwent a major renovation in 1999 and into 2000.
“It’s been busy, not really a lot of time to yourself,” conceded Wanda. “Chemainus is a great little place. The shop’s been good to us.”
The Myers helped many school students to secure their first employment.
“With the gas pumps, we had a lot of kids go through here,” said Wanda.
“We still see quite a few of them, too,” added Dan.
The gas pumps were taken out of the service station about eight years ago, leaving the mechanical side of the business as the primary function.
Of course, the trademark McBride’s fleet of tow trucks and vehicles has long been seen on the roads and bailed out many people from difficult situations.
There was initially a 1941 Ford wrecker, an old Army vehicle, and then a succession of them from a 1966 Chevy one-ton to a 1986 one-ton, 1994 Ford F-450 and 2001 Ford F-450. The Myers acquired the current 2007 Hino deck truck in 2014 that’s known throughout the area as a landmark vehicle.
The vehicles always came in handy for multiple uses.
“Take her on a date night, we’d take the tow truck,” joked Dan of outings with his wife.
Dan also had many incidents and some dangerous near-misses while towing.
“There’s been dozens of them,” he said.
Every situation was different and seldom easy to tow vehicles out of problematic situations.
“It’s always interesting when you get there,” said Dan. “You’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do.”
In later years, Dan said he learned all about how to “work smarter, not harder.”
A deal has been in the works for a while to sell the place and it finally happened after an intense period of negotiations.
“We were going since April,” said Dan. “I had it for sale before that, too.”
The sale to new owners Terry and Linda Dockrill was finally concluded just before Christmas on Dec. 17. You’ll learn more about the Dockrills in part two of this story next week.
Initially, Dan didn’t stay retired too long and maintains the family connection at the shop with son Matt working there. During the floods of Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Dan sprung back into duty to help out with the backlog of calls, alongside Matt.
“Hopefully, we’re going to take some holidays now, ride his Harley, see some of the country,” said Wanda.
“Days of the week are going way faster than they did before,” laughed Dan.
Next week: The Dockrills carry on the name and the tradition of the business.