Former Surrey resident Lyanne Smith was joined by former transit operator Angus McIntyre to display their collection of transit memorabilia at the Museum of Vancouver’s new exhibit

A ticket to B.C. transit history

Next stop for retired bus driver’s collection: The Museum of Vancouver.

Lyanne Smith was driving buses in the Lower Mainland at a time when another Trudeau was prime minister.

She and commuters have history.

Smith, who grew up in Surrey, collected things over her nearly 39-year career – old bus tickets, passes, transfers, pamphlets, even company magazines like The Buzzer and The Intercom.

Now, her memorabilia, which hails from the 1890s to the early 2000s, is on display at the Museum of Vancouver’s (MOV) interactive exhibition – All Together Now: Vancouver Collectors and Their Worlds, which runs until Jan. 8, 2017.

“I love the old tickets,” says Smith, now retired and living on Vancouver Island.

She began her career as a Vancouver bus driver in 1975, moved over to SkyTrain field operations in 1985 shortly before Expo 86, then headed south to White Rock shuttle bus operations before finishing her career as a duties manager with transit communications in 2014.

In all, she worked under four umbrellas: BC Hydro, Metro Transit, BC Transit (with its SkyTrain subsidiary) and Coast Mountain Bus Company.

By the 1990s, she had gotten to know some old B.C. motormen and antique dealers, and began to pick up uniforms, belt buckles, lighters and other trinkets linked whatever company ran the buses and trains.

The exhibit includes eclectic curiosities from collectors of Chinese restaurant menus, pinball machines, drag queen memorabilia, 19th-century corsets, concert posters and vintage artificial limbs collected by the son of a prosthetist.

Photo by Boaz Joseph

“The act of collecting is a fascinating way to engage with one’s identity, history and community,” says MOV Curator of Contemporary Culture Viviane Gosselin. “This exhibition enables visitors to enter into the rich, often-unknown worlds of collectors, and to think about how private collections can affect our understanding of the past. In this way, it reminds us of the importance of collectors as memory keepers.”

Smith’s collection – joined by a couple of items from fellow B.C. transit enthusiast Angus McIntyre – goes back further than the companies she worked for. They include the BC Electric Railway and the even older National Electric Tramway and Lighting Company.

She notes that one train ticket in her collection, from 1890, might be the oldest one in existence in B.C.

Although her employment only goes back so far, there’s still much in the way the region evolved since.

“Transit was incredibly different,” she recalls of her work behind the wheel in the 1970s. “When I started, there was still a respect for the uniform.”

Although she hasn’t driven a bus in years, she had noticed – anecdotally or otherwise – the increased traffic and less cordial behavior of passengers and subsequent stress for present-day bus drivers.

Smith says that while she doesn’t miss the day-to-day work, she’s still got certain nostalgia for the things she picked up along the way.

One other thing Smith collected while a transit operator: Norm.

“We met on the job, got married, and here we are,” she says.

“Like Stan and Olive,” she adds, referring to characters in a 1969-73 British sitcom called On the Buses.

Whittling down her possessions in the last several months, Smith has donated some of her items from the exhibit to the MOV’s permanent collection.

But she still finds herself occasionally browsing the odd antique store.“I thought I was just done collecting, but I don’t think you ever are.”

The Museum of Vancouver is located at 1100 Chestnut St. at Vanier Park. The museum is open each day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closes at 10 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission is $15 for adults, $11 for students, seniors and kids aged 12-18, and $5 for kids aged eight to 11.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock RCMP are searching for Richard John Lewis, who is wanted on warrants for assault and uttering threats. (RCMP handout)
White Rock RCMP searching for wanted man

Richard John Lewis is wanted on warrants for assault, uttering threats

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police investigating after another teen girl followed in Tsawwassen

Police say a man in a burgundy car approached teen girls on at least two, possibly three occasions

partial graphic used in "Get Serious" campaign by Surrey business groups.
‘Get Serious’ message about COVID pushed by Surrey business groups fearing ‘economic shutdown’

‘Different social media messages will be sent out daily with significant messaging…’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

Most Read