Posts Tagged ‘gabriola road lore’

The ‘T & T’

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. 


The old T&T building was the site of some automotive shenanigans and gave the island a flavour that is not so easy to taste anymore.

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.


The sign that was once a landmark at the junction of North and South Road was rescued by a local mechanic and now stands on Carr Blvd. close to his shop.

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 .  


In an attempt to fit the local motif, the shed 'style' of the slightly revamped old T&T garage was repeated in the design of the new development in the background. Is that an architectural shenanigan?



09 2010

Sir William and St.Catherine


If you manage to find this sign, you could probably find the trail to the sea.

One notable (or notorious) Gabriola pioneer was Bill Coats, who has been described as a handyman, farmer, and entrepreneur. According to two books on the subject, he worked for the infamous Brother Twelve – a cult leader from the early 1900′s who bamboozled many gullible folks out of their money and operated a commune of sorts on DeCourcey Island. One of Coates ventures on Gabriola was an attempt to generate electricity on the island. He was close to completing his hydro plant, using the water from Hoggan Lake that he diverted over the bluff on his land, to generate the power. Of course BC Hydro had shown no interest in supplying the island previously, but immediately began putting up poles and wires when Coats got close to finishing his project, and beat him to the punch.   

Bill Coats came to own a considerable amount of land on the island, including the sandstone quarry above Descanso Bay.  When his son Clyde subdivided one parcel the family owned between Degnan Bay and Gabriola Passage – at the end of Martin Road – he named the resulting roads Sir William and St.Catherine, after his father Bill and mother Catherine. Obviously Coats Road bears the family name, but as yet there is no Clyde Road on Gabriola…just Clyde.      

public access

It may LOOK like a private drive, but that small lane is on a public road allowance that goes right to the beach, just steps away from Drumbeg Park.


08 2010