History

The routes of the Shirley family towing and repairing automobiles in Salmon Arm goes back many years.

Pat Shirley, Jim’s farther was born and raised in Salmon Arm. He always has had a love for the automobile and following his return from war, Pat started working as a apprentice mechanic for Sam Miller of Central Service, a garage located at corner of Lakeshore and Alexander.

In 1948 a new garage was built and soon became Salmon Arm Motors with a new owner Gordon Marshal. During his time at Salmon Arm Motors, In addition to being a mechanic Pat built the first two wreckers for Salmon Arm Motors.

These truck were used throughout the North Okanagan until 1966 when Owner Gordon Marshal thought Pat was deserving of a new truck.

The one ton, Holmes 440 wrecker was purchased from Airth Automotive Equipment and used until 1969 when the cab and chassis was replaced. This truck would make its way through a few owners and was one of Ben’s Towing’s first trucks.

 Late 1969 Pat left Salmon Arm Motors and was employed by Harold Swenson of Harold’s Texaco.

Texaco was located where the parking lot is north of the downtown fire hall #3.

Jim’s career also started at Harold’s Texaco where he began at young age pumping gas.

Given his passion for automobile’s as well, he started apprenticing under Stan Pollard at Salmon Arm Esso, located where 7-11 is today.

In 1979 when Harold retired from the Texaco, Pat and Son Jim became the proprietors under the business name Salmon Arm Texaco.

Many family members were also employed including Pat's wife June, son's Brad and Greg, and Jim's wife Lorna.
 

In 1983 fulfilling another life time passion, Pat went to work full time for the Salmon Arm Fire Department and Brad, son of Pat who had been working at Texaco pumping gas, teamed up with Jim as a business partner. During the eight years at Texaco a renovation took place expanding the gas bar portion of the business. In June of 1984 a Grand Re-Opening took place.

During this time is when Brad and Jim built there 1st wrecker mounting it on a ford 4x4. As that business grew, they purchased a second truck, a used 440 Holmes wrecker.

In 1987 the widening of the highway through town forced the Texaco to be closed permanently. Given Salmon Arm GM had just moved from its original location of Alexander and 2nd Ave. to a new location, Jim and Brad were able to move shop there, ironically back to where Pat had worked for many years.

A short time later they were approached by Chevron Canada to operate that service centre and gas outlet where they spent 11 years serving loyal customers.

Additional mechanics were hired and a number of different towing vehicles were utilized over this time as the business grew, including a rotation on the RCMP tow roster.

In 1998 Jim and Brad purchased property and built a new 3 bay shop with a much needed vehicle storage lot. Another mechanic was hired and in 1999 when Brad took a permanate job with the Fire Department, the towing business was down sized and they qave up the rcmp rotation.

Working from their current location they continue to pride themselves on quality service & repairs, something the family has done for many years in the Salmon Arm, Shuswap Area.

© 2014 by Central Automotive Service & Towing.

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