Looking back at Sylvan Lake’s earliest service stations

A look back at the town's earliest service stations

An early Sylvan Lake service station

An early Sylvan Lake service station

The following article and accompanying pictures were submitted by the Sylvan Lake and District Archives Society as part of a series celebrating the society’s 20 years of existence this year. The Archives Society is open to the public every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. at its new location in the lower level of the town’s Municipal Government Building.

The first service stations in Sylvan Lake were mainly built adjacent to Lakeshore Drive, which was then a section of Highway 11 (now 11A).

Joe Untinen built his first garage on the northwest corner of Lakeshore Drive and 50 Street in 1929 and named it the Lakeview Garage. It burned down on September 9, 1939, taking with it a stray dog which had attached himself to the staff and taken on the role of guarding the premises. They named him ‘Scout’ and when Joe rebuilt the garage, a plaque dedicated to Scout was hung on the wall.

Not only did Joe run a thriving business, but he was an active member of the community and was sadly missed upon his death in 1968 when the Lakeview Garage was sold. For a few years a Turbo Station operated at that location. The lot is vacant in 2015.

The Balmoral Garage and Tea Room, on the northwest corner of 46 Street and Lakeshore Drive, built in 1932 by Alex Robertson, sold British American (BA) gas and oil. Bob Brown purchased it in 1950. He operated it as it was for a few years and then remodelled the service station, doing away with the Tea Room and adding a Coin Wash and Dry Cleaning service. Bob sold the business in 1974.

In the 1940s, Jack Goodey purchased a service station at the junction of Lakeshore Drive and Railway (50) Avenue on the east entrance to Sylvan Lake from Adam Dashner. This Texaco Station, Lakewood Garage, was owned and operated by Jack for over 20 years. In 1973, he sold it to Willard and Howard Wilde, who operated it until 1991. It is presently owned by Petro-Can.

Across the street on the north side of the highway was another service station. The first owner was Keith McAfee. Korny Hansen bought the service station from Bill Vincent in May of 1973 and owned it for a number of years. The family sold it in 1990 after Korny’s death in 1989. It is now a GTI station.

A few gas pumps appeared on 50 (Main) Street over the years, including Ken Wilkinson’s BA fuel business. German’s Imperial Oil sign appeared on Railway Avenue (on the site later occupied by the Town Office) as well. The Red Head Garage built by Gordon Keith on the northwest corner of 46 Street and Railway Avenue in 1946 was another busy service and changed hands several times before that corner was redeveloped as the Varsity Mall.