Fire destroys rural bus driver's home, she still shows up for 5 a.m. school route

A rural Alberta bus driver's home caught fire last week, but despite the damage it caused that night, she still showed up for her 5 a.m. bus route so kids wouldn't miss school.

'The kids still need to get to school,' says Robyn Gilliland

Robyn Gilliland, a bus driver, showed up for her morning school route northwest of Medicine Hat despite fire destroying her home hours before. (Cody Gilliland and Robyn Gilliland)

A rural Alberta bus driver's home caught fire last week, but despite the damage it caused that night, she still showed up for her 5 a.m. bus route so kids wouldn't miss school.

Robyn Gilliland and her husband, Cody, live on a ranch near CFB Suffield, northwest of Medicine Hat.

They watched fire destroy their mobile home on Nov. 22.

"Both my husband and I were, we were actually watching a movie, and my husband had kind of smelled something, you know, it smelt hot and had a melted burning smell," she told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

"We grabbed our little miniature two dachshunds and we got out. That was it. So whatever we had in our arms and on our backs, that's what we got out with."

Gilliland says that by the time they reached the door, their home was completely full of smoke.  

"My husband said later that he could feel the crackling under the floor. So that's where the fire was, was underneath the trailer."

The two, both in their pyjamas, jumped in their truck and waited for the fire department to come.

"They did a remarkable job of trying to save what they could.… We're trying to see if we can salvage maybe a few clothes, and that looks to be about it," she said.

"Those trailers don't hold up well to any kind of fire."

Robyn Gilliland, left, and her husband, Cody, lost all of the contents of their mobile home when it caught fire on Nov 22. (Rachel Neufeld )

Luckily, the couple's neighbour is the local fire chief and he and his wife offered the two a place to stay for awhile.

"Within the rural community, we help each other throughout the whole year. I mean, whether it's calving, branding, farming … whatever it takes just to kind of look after each other and watch out," she said.

"So they immediately opened their home to us, as did the rest of the community."

  • Listen to the full interview from the Calgary Eyeopener below.
A devastating house fire hasn't dashed the spirits of a hard working bus driver in rural Alberta. We speak with her. 8:00

Despite having a hard night, Gilliland still woke up hours later to make her 5 a.m. bus route.

"The kids still need to get to schoo,l and plus, that's a whole other family for me," she said.

"I still owe them, you know, the privilege of getting to school safely, and it was kind of a bit of a distraction for me that I could continue to do that for them."

Now, school bus drivers in the Medicine Hat area are pitching in to help and put together a GoFundMe to support the couple.

"Our rural families and communities that are coming together for us is unbelievable," Gilliland said.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.