Ed Evans knows Prince Rupert like the back of his hand. Ten years as a cab driver will do that, but Evans was also born and raised in Rupert. In fact, he’s never lived anywhere else.
“Everything I need is here. All my friends are here, lots of job opportunities, people are very friendly,” Evans said. “I go to other places and it just doesn’t feel like home. This is home.”
When Evans was about 14 or 15 years old, he got his first ever job: pumping gas at the Home Gas Station. He’s always loved cars — or anything with a motor, really — so the job was a natural fit. He’d wash windows, take money for the gas he pumped and admire the vehicles that drove through. That station is gone now, torn down years ago to create a lot that now sits empty across from 7-Eleven.
“It’s very sad, but we keep on going. We got what we got. As Prince Rupertites we’ve got to make the best of what we have. That’s what we’ve done throughout the years,” he said adding that it was the people living here who started the telephone company. “We needed telephones, they weren’t going to supply it, so we did it ourselves. That’s what’s nice about Prince Rupert.”
It’s this go-get ‘em attitude that sees Evans where he is today. After wearing many hats in retail, as a taxi driver — twice — and at Audio Vision, Evans has been a salesman for newspapers in Rupert for 25 years. He started at the Daily News and now works at the Northern View.
He considers his current job the highlight of his career. Three years, Evans said, is the average amount of time someone will work as a salesperson before finding another job.
“It’s a high-stress job, lots of people can’t handle it. I love it,” the Rupertite said.
“Every day it’s a different job. Every day it’s meeting different people, talking to different people and helping different people. I really like that.”
One of Evans’s favourite parts of the job is when he walks into a store and everyone comes over to see him, getting the low down on what’s going on in town — he’s the guy to ask.
“I’m a talker. I like to talk to people and in my cab, I could talk to lots of people. And they’d actually plan on my cab,” he said.
He started driving his own cab in 1978, back when industry was booming and Prince Rupert was full of people. He had his regulars during the graveyard shift, 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Every night he’d drive Peter Lester, the long-serving mayor of Prince Rupert, home after a long day of work.
“We’d have nice conversations. It’s a very fun job and the people you meet, most of them are salt of the earth.”
He recalled when an unexpected passenger hopped in his cab, and he ended up giving Vanessa Redgrave a two-hour tour of Prince Rupert to show her the sights. The movie star was in town filming “Bear Island.”
He credits the job with getting him where he is today, even if it was the long road to take.
“It improved my sales skills because I had to convince them on the idea that you have to pay me … It was kind of hectic, but 98 per cent of the people were great. Most do not bother you, they just want to go home — or to another party,” Evans said with a laugh.
When Evans wasn’t behind the wheel for work, it was all about play. It began when he was a teenager. On July 1 every year, it became a tradition to watch the Kitimat Hill Climb drag race. At the time, the closest racing strips were in Edmonton or Mission. Once Evans got his driver’s licence and was behind the wheel, it became almost like an addiction, he said.
So he decided to bring drag racing to Rupert. For years, he was the vice president of the Prince Rupert auto club. He was the mastermind behind the wildly popular drag races that gathered crowds of 3,000 people to watch single runs down tracks in town and on Ridley Island.
“I had those plans in my minds for five or six years beforehand,” he said. “Most people don’t know that I was the one who planned it all out. The club helped me do it, but there’s a lot of planning involved. I’m quite proud of it. We had to have one law changed before we could have our event, and the provincial government changed the law for us.”
In 2013, Evans won a pro championship race in Terrace.
“Who would’ve ever thought that I’d win a pro championship, but hey — one to scratch off the bucket list, that’s for sure.”
Nothing in Rupert, Evans said, could be done without the help of its people.
“That’s what’s nice about Prince Rupert. You go, ‘We need to find a way to get this’ and somebody will find a way to get it,” Evans said. Drag racing, telephones, you name it.
“Great community, great people, great businesses — I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”