Wilbert Tindale has transported thousands of Haliburtonians throughout his 35 years driving coach buses.
As he prepared for one last ride before retirement Sept. 10, he was greeted with a surprise bus full of balloons. Friends and co-workers celebrated his career outside the XTR gas station in Haliburton village. About 30 of those years were spent driving people from Haliburton, most recently as part of the Can-ar Coach Service.
Tindale said even after all the time spent on the road, he still likes the ride.
“I still enjoy driving. It’s great. The freedom, my own boss,” Tindale said. “I’m going to miss driving with all the people. But I got another chapter to go.”
His oft-driven route sees him travel from Haliburton to Minden, Lindsay, Port Perry, Oshawa before finally arriving in Toronto and driving back. Throughout his driving days, Tindale said he tries to treat everybody with the same friendliness.
“I’ll say where are you going today and I hope you have a great day.”
Frank Brookes has worked alongside Tindale for 20 of those years, alternating with him on the Haliburton route. Although another driver is set to replace Tindale, Brookes said it is hard seeing him retire.
“Bill’s a good guy. He’s very loyal to the company. He’s good with the passengers, he’s been good for the business,” Brookes said. “It’s going to be sad to see him go after all those years and I know he will be missed by many of our passengers.”
Barbara Schofield has ridden the coach buses from Haliburton since 1971, many driven by Tindale.
“Nice, pleasant guy and he’s very helpful,” Schofield said. “It (the bus) goes to the little towns but that serves a lot of people.”
XTR owner Greg Tibbitts organized the celebration and said he wanted to honour the man who he’s worked beside for 26 years.
“He’s a nice guy and he’s funny. We have a lot of laughs in the morning,” Tibbitts said. “I just wish him all the best. I hope he enjoys his retirement.”
Tindale said he looks forward to opening a new chapter in his life and plans to travel to visit his kids in Alberta now that he is retiring. But as he prepared to embark from the XTR gas station for his final trip, he said he’ll miss interacting with all the passengers he picks up on every trip.
“Sometimes, you feel like a bartender. They open up and tell me their life story,” Tindale said. “It’s kind of neat.”