When the T&T Texaco station opened in the late 60′s, the island was starting to grow and a ’gas station’ was a welcomed addition. At the junction of North and South Roads, at the top of the ferry hill, the “T&T” soon became pretty much the center of automotive activity for over 30 years.
Originally opened by Ted Easthom and Ted James, the T&T was the place to go if you wanted to know anything about anything on Gabriola. Sid Skinner bought out Easthom in the seventies and he and Ted James enjoyed the social part of the business as much as the automotive side. They knew where just about everyone lived and what they drove. Before the RCMP became a permanent fixture on the island, it was common for folks to call the T&T and ask “have the cops left the island yet?” Since they had the only tow truck, the police routinely called the T&T after hours to request their towing services. That itself was risky business, since the tow truck driver was often in no condition to drive himself, and tales of towing mishaps are still told amongst many longtime islanders. They did many good deeds, delivering heating oil to many folks down some bad winter roads and long driveways, and extending credit when they knew they may not get paid any time soon. On Christmas Eve it was traditional for many regular customers to drop in with bottled gift and enjoy a holiday laugh or two with some real island characters.
At the T&T one could enjoy a cigarette and a cool beverage on any given afternoon and chew the fat with Sid and Ted between fill-ups. Although many of the regulars could fill their own tanks if they wished, the T&T was full service (not necessarily fast). Ted would often have to crawl out from under a vehicle to pump gas. He would usually not have a smoke in his mouth at the time. Usually. It was not uncommon for one of the repair bays to be half full of empties. On the odd occasion, when the boys had been ‘distracted’ at closing time, Ted would arrive at the station early in the morning to find the lights and gas pumps on, and the doors wide open, having ‘forgotton’ to close things up the night before. He would check the cash register and find it untouched from the day before….business as usual. Times were a little different then.
With some serious competition re-opening another gas station down the road, things went downhill in the 21st century and Sid turned the business over to his son. Ted James left the island, moving to Prince George, and Sid died suddenly of a heart attack – not far from the T&T. The property was eventually sold along with a neighbouring parcel, and redevelopment began. What had been a scrapyard became a strip mall – which many islanders see as an improvement .