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  Cardinal Coach

Forth Junction Project
The Evolution of Transit
in Central Alberta

 
Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
Heritage Society

 
History of Bus Service in Central Alberta

crude stage coach on C & E Trail circa 1885It could be argued that the first transit system in Central Alberta was the rudimentary stagecoach service between Calgary and Edmonton on the C & E Trail from 1883 to 1891 prior to the arrival of the C & E Railway. The 'depots' were the stopping houses along the way including 'the Crossing' at the Red Deer River and 'the Spruces' north of Innisfail.


There was also a brief stagecoach service between Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer operated by Brewster of Banff in 1914-15 and an early bus service between the two communities several years later was operated by White Bus Lines that ended in 1932.

In May 1933 Gordon Sorensen of Stettler started an 80-mile bus service between Lacombe and Castor using an 8-passenger Studebaker. Although short-lived due to lack of passengers, it was the beginning of what was to become a transit empire. In that same year Sorensen and his new bride moved to Sylvan Lake and began a service between there and Red Deer using the same Studebaker bus. He expanded the route west to Rocky Mountain House, at times a challenging enterprise as the road was not paved and almost impassable after a heavy rainfall. A brief attempt to provide service to Nordegg was abandoned as the roads were extremely poor.
Sorensen Bus 1946 Flxible Clipper
Over the next several years, the network of buses operated by Sorensen covered all of Central Alberta and beyond including a service to the Penhold Airbase during the Second World War offering 16 trips per day between the base and the city.

In 1940 Sorensen moved his family to Red Deer to open a bus depot on Gaetz Avenue where the family opened the Blue Derby Cafe. In 1945, that building was sold and he built a new depot and cafe on 52 Street that remained in that function until the 1980s.

Cardinal coaches at Park Hotel Red Deer 1949In 1946 he sold one of the routes east of Red Deer to Gerald Weber who named his fledgling company Cardinal Bus Lines with one red and white Flxible. A few months later Cardinal began a service from Stettler to Drumheller using a 1939 Cadillac La Salle beginning a friendly rivalry that saw routes exchanged by the two companies several times. Cardinal's depot was located at the Park Hotel on Ross Street.

Cardinal developed a service from Caroline to both Innisfail and Rocky Mountain House which were both sold to Sorensen in 1949. And Sorensen sold its Stettler to Calgary route to Cardinal but bought it back in 1958 as well as the Red Deer to Stettler route.

Eventually Cardinal set up its head office in Calgary and started concentrating on school bus and sightseeing service.

In 1954 Sorensen began a rural school bus service which evolved to a fleet of 37 buses by the time it was sold to Prairie Bus Lines in 1957.

early Red Deer Transit busThe first transit service within Red Deer started in 1946 by a private operator which was sold in 1956 to Sorensen with one bus. The service had expanded to 14 buses by the time it was sold to the City in 1966.

Many of the routes that Sorensen had built up were sold to other operators including most of Greyhound's Central Alberta network. Greyhound even bought the depot and cafe that Sorensen built on 52 Street that served the city until the 1980s when Greyhound built its new depot at Gaetz Avenue and 43 Street.

RD Transit 501 Nov 1968 - P Cox

See Red Deer Transit

See History article by Michael Dawe -
      Sorensen Station name a fitting tribute



More to come soon

 

 

Trails, Transit, Trains
Trails and Trains Overview
Trains and Transit Overview

Milestones 1910-13
Calgary Edmonton Trail
Transit in Central Alberta
Red Deer Transit

Jubilee 3001 Chinook
Locomotives Central Alberta
Rise and Fall of Passenger Rail
 

The Railways of Central Alberta
Calgary & Edmonton Railway
C & E Railway at Red Deer
Alberta Central Railway
Canadian Northern Railway
Canadian Northern Western RR
Canadian National Railway in RD
Grand Trunk Pacific Central Alberta
Lacombe & Blindman Valley RR
Timetable Excerpts
 
Railway Stations of the Region
C & ER Combination Stations
Portable Stations
Red Deer CPR 1910 Station
Role of Railway Stations
Red Deer's 4 Stations
CPR Stations in Central Alberta
CNR Stations in Central Alberta
Multiple Station Communities
Station Plans

 
Bridges, Structures, Heritage
Rail Structures of Region
Central Alberta Rail Bridges

Mintlaw Trestle
Alberta's Railway Bridges
Western Canada Rail Bridges



 

 

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