The community of Grenfell pulled together in a big way to help some stranded Greyhound passengers who were forced to pull over in the wake of the recent snowstorm that pummelled the region.
One passenger, Douglas Cottrell, was headed to Ottawa, Ontario from Victoria, British Columbia. Following a rocky trip full of unscheduled stops and long delays, he thought the worst was behind him when they reached Regina for their scheduled layover.
“I fell asleep on the bus about ten minutes out of Regina,” Cottrell explained. “About 45 minutes later I wake up and the bus is stopped. I ask everyone if we pulled in somewhere and they say ‘No, we’re still on the highway!’ And right in front of us are six trucks all lined up, and the snow is just piling up.”
The storm was worsening by the minute, but the driver decided to drive a little further to see if he could find a reasonable place
“We averaged about 20 km an hour all the way into Grenfell from there.”
They passed a number of semi trucks whose trailers had slid into the ditch, and Cottrell was extremely nervous during the hour and half it took to get to Grenfell.
“Half the time you couldn’t see two inches in front of the bus,” he added.
They finally pulled into the Grenfell Esso parking lot, as the storm had made it nearly impossible to go any further.
“Some of the people on the bus were pretty annoyed by the fact that he pulled over, but some of us definitely agreed it was the safest thing to do,” Cottrell said.
The group spent the night on the bus, but were treated to a meal and allowed to use the washrooms at the Esso. Bruce Urschel from the Esso called some Grenfell town council members the next day to ask them if they could try and set something up for the group, so that they wouldn’t have to spend another night on the bus. Council members started making phone calls to various community members, who quickly spread the word, and soon the Grenfell Community Hall was set up with mattresses, sleeping bags and refreshments for the travellers.
Despite the ordeal, many of them decided to make the most of it, playing poker and laughing and joking at the hall, while others read and talked amongst themselves.
Cottrell had already been stranded for almost 24 hours, but was still in high spirits.
“It’s an adventure,” he said. He was also astounded with the way the people of Grenfell pulled together to make the group’s stay as pleasant as possible.
“I think this is absolutely amazing. The community coming together and doing something like this for all of us...it’s pretty phenomenal.”
Ross Burns was on his way from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to Toronto, Ontario.
“This has been a long trip so far. I’m 36 hours into the trip and I just came from Prince Albert,” he laughed.
He shook his head in wonder at the sleeping arrangements that had been set up for them on such short notice.
“I’m just amazed. It took less than a day to organize this and wow, I’m impressed. The hospitality I saw, and the generosity was real genuine. I’m very impressed with the way the community came together.”
Another traveller, Dale, who chose not to give his last name, was on his way to visit his granddaughter in Manitoba. He was also overwhelmed by the hospitality the stranded travellers were shown.
“We were all miserable being stuck here, but they gave us a nice meal, they’re letting us stay, they’re giving us hospitality without even knowing us – you don’t find people like that too often in Canada anymore. I’ll remember Grenfell for a long time. What they did for everybody here was very special.”