Canada’s First Gas Station
The first gas station in Canada opened at Cambie and Smithe Streets. Sometime this year it occurred to employees at the Vancouver office of the Imperial Oil Co. that the usual method of fuelling automobiles to this time—namely, carrying a sloshing bucket full of gasoline up to the vehicle and pouring it through a funnel into the tank—was somewhat dangerous. So Charles Rolston, manager of Imperial’s local office, built a small open-sided shed of corrugated iron next to the storage yard. Atop a tapering concrete pillar he placed a 13-gallon (59-litre) kitchen water tank fitted with a glass steam-gauge, with 1-gallon (4.5-litre) increments marked off by white dots. The tank was gravity fed, being connected to Imperial’s main storage tank. The filling hose was a 10-foot (3-metre) length of garden hose, which the attendant drained with thumb and finger after filling a car.
The first attendant was Imperial’s former night watchman, J.C. Rollston, who had been in poor health. His co-workers believed he would improve in the sun and open air. They bought a barroom chair for him and set him down by the “pump.” Canada’s first gas station was now in business. The late city archivist J.S. Matthews (who worked for Imperial Oil at the time) said that, in the beginning, a busy morning would see three or four cars show up.