BA Gas Station Was A Part Of My Hometown Scene

When Gary Hamilton & I were on our recent recce for the Great American Mountain Rally Revival we ended our recce at the Hemmings Motor News Store in Bennington, Vermont.  On the wall, Hemmings had a British American “BA” enamel sign for sale.  I had to buy it.  While Hemmings had many signs for sale, this was the only BA sign they had and the salesman had to get a ladder and screw driver to take the sign down from the wall.

 

The Familiar BA Sign

In the town where I grew up (well, at least spent my first 18 years), Shelburne, Ontario, the BA gas station was a central part of life.  BA was a Canadian service station chain.  In Shelburne, the BA station was owned by Vic Reid, who was a neighbor of ours.  Vic was a good mechanic despite having lost a hand in a hunting accident.  In the winter months, Vic would give me a ride uptown in his big 1955 Buick to the BA gas station.  From there, I would walk to school.  In the summer months, I could ride my bicycle to the school which was a little more than a mile from our house.  In the winter months I would walk home, usually stopping to play road hockey at Wauchope’s or on the ice surface beside Shelburne Auto Body.

When I got older I got  job on the weekends pumping gas at the BA.  In those days, all of the gas stations were “full service” stations.  The BA was a place where some interesting people and characters, like Homer Besley, Hi Partridge, and Frank Giles always gathered to shoot the breeze.  I would hesitate to say that I got a good education at the BA, but I got a useful and interesting education there.  If you wanted to know what was happening in town, then you went to the BA to find out.

In 1969, Gulf Oil Canada completely took over British American and the local BA station became a Gulf Station.  Now that’s even gone and the old BA service station lot is now a park.

If you have any comments or questions about this post then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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8 Responses to BA Gas Station Was A Part Of My Hometown Scene

  1. Steve:

    How fitting that during our recce on one of the long stretches we were talking about when we were growing up.

    You actually mentioned the BA stations and how you were looking for a BA sign; and then at the finish at Hemmings you spotted this!

    I do remember we were talking full service and how the old pneumatic “ding” bells were part of the sounds of our youth.

    Bet if you play a clip of one no one under 45 would recognize it.

    Check this out:
    https://www.miltonsbells.com/

  2. Gary Spicer says:

    The BA station close to where I grew up (Hantsport, Nova Scotia) had a connected restaurant that served some of the best food in the area. I remember going there with my father in his ’59 Chev to pick up fish and chips to go. It was a real treat. I’m not even sure if that building still exists. And just down the road from there in Avonport was a White Rose gas station. Both BA and White Rose are long gone, but thanks to Hemming’s for keeping some of those memories alive.

    • Hi Gary,
      Yes, most of the old gas stations are gone. Shelburne also had a White Rose station but it was part of a Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealership and its main business seemed to be looking after dealer cars. At the north end of town there was a Cities Service station as well. The other station in Shelburne was a Shell station that belonged to Matthews Motors. That was a unique place, to say the least. Two of the real unforgettable people there were Henry Matthews and his son Bev. Bev Matthews could sell a car to anybody.
      Steve McKelvie

  3. Mary jones says:

    I remember as well the BA. Frank Giles worked there a bit didnt he? I remember gas at 29 cents a gallon as a price. Dear old Vic – hahahahahaha… the funniest laugh. And rides into town back of the truck! And yes passing Matthews Motors before the climb /bike ride up the hill.

  4. merrill smith says:

    If I remember correctly, Gulf was taken over by Petro Canada, White Rose was absorbed by Shell and Supertest? Was it swallowed by Texaco? I never saw a Cities Service, growing up in Montreal.

    • Hi Merrill,
      The companies that became Petro Canada are a little fuzzy in my memory. I think that Fina was one and I believe that there were several others, but I can’t recall at this time.
      Steve McKelvie

  5. Jay N-J says:

    There were Cities Service stations all over the upper midwest. They became CITGO in the mid-70s here.

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