British Columbia

3 generations of Vancouver bus drivers toast great-grandfather's 100th in vintage bus

John Harlow became a bus driver in 1945. His son and granddaughter followed his footsteps and became drivers too.

Centenarian John Harlow's son and granddaughter followed his footsteps to become bus drivers

There are three generations of bus drivers in the Harlow family: David (left), Michelle Fullard, and John. (David Harlow)

For his 100th birthday, John Harlow's family wanted to give him a ride down memory lane, literally.

They rented a 1964 G.M.C. for the former bus driver to do a Sunday morning tour through some of his life's most pivotal stops around Metro Vancouver.

It was a vehicle Harlow was familiar with.

"I drove trolleys, I drove G.M.C.'s, I drove everything there was to drive," he said.

This vintage 1964 G.M.C. bus from the Transit Museum Society was chartered for John Harlow's 100th birthday party. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Vancouver city buses have special meaning for the Harlow family, three generations have entered the profession including his son, David, and grand-daughter, Michelle Fullard.

"I'd call us bus royalty," she laughed.

For the special occasion, the family turned the outside of the centenarian's bungalow  — a home he's lived in since he built it in 1950 — into a vintage bus stop complete with a wooden sign.

During the ride, Harlow toured his old bus routes in East Vancouver. 

A throwback bus stop fit for the occasion. This was the scene outside of John Harlow's home for this birthday party. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

He stopped at St.Thomas Anglican Church on E. 41st Avenue where he got married in 1940. That led to four children, 23 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Then, they visited Sea Island where Harlow started off working as a driver for Boeing during the Second World War.

In 1945, he began his 34-year career with what is now known as the Coast Mountain Bus Company.

"He did better than we thought," said David. "He stayed awake for the whole trip. It was four hours."

When asked for his advice for young drivers, Harlow was honest with his wisdom.

"I don't think I'd recommend it, " he said with a chuckle. "It's a tough racket."

John Harlow put on his old bus driver's uniform for his birthday tour around town. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

With files from Doug Kerr