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.
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