Bearspaw Service Station

page 59 More Big Hill Country

The Post War years brought many changes to Calgary and the surrounding area, which inspired many War veterans to start new businesses. These were the times that brought Cliff Gillespie and Norm Newsome together. They started a small business in the Bearspaw area. In approximately 1946 they purchased a small parcel of land from Nick Hamilton. The land was located on the south side of the 1A highway, approximately

10 miles west of Calgary. On this land, they built a garage large enough to house and repair a milk truck they owned. As time went on Cliff Gillespie, who worked as a mechanic, decided to install gas pumps under the White Rose flag, turning the garage into a repair shop. 

In approximately 1947 Norm Newsome left the business and Cliff Gillespie took on a new partner, Ted Cushing. At this time the business took on a new name, the Bearspaw Service Station and a new Oil and Gas Company, Esso, which it is still today. It quickly became a very busy place with local farmers and residents gathering on a daily basis. It was not uncommon to find as many as a dozen people gathered at the station, especially on rainy days. Many world problems were solved at these times. 

In 1952 the service station became busy enough that Cliff and Ted hired Bob Thomas as their first employee and apprentice. In approximately 1963, Cliff bought Ted out and became the sole owner until 1973 when he sold the business. 

Cliff and Ted both built their personal homes on the land site and raised their families there for many years. The Gillespies were west of the garage, and the Cushings were on the east side of the garage. 

Cliff Gillespie and Ted Cushing met overseas during WWII and served in the same unit. Upon returning home from the war, Ted married Kathleen Gillespie (Cliff’s youngest sister) on December 14, 1946. Ted and Kath moved to Vancouver, B.C. shortly after they were married where Ted was going to re-enlist with the Army. Cliff contacted them with a proposal to move back to Bearspaw and open a service station in 1948. Ted agreed to a partnership with Cliff and they opened the Bearspaw Service Station in 1948. The partnership was dissolved between Ted and Cliff in 1963. Cliff continued to work at the service station until 1973, and Ted went to work in Calgary. 

Ted and Kath sold their house in Bearspaw in 1973 and moved to Cochrane, Kath passed away January 14, 1976, and Ted passed away on October 26, 1981. Ted and Kath had three children: Gordon, Lynda and Maureen. Gord married Bev in 1979 and they have two children, Shane (Heather) and Dawn (Joel). Lynda married John Brooks in 1973 and they have two children, Cheryl (Leo) St. Amour and Tracy Lee (Colin). They have one granddaughter, Caitlin St. Amour. Maureen married Gerry Nielsen in 1978 and they have two children, Bradley and Darcy. All their children and families currently reside in Calgary. 

Cliff Gillespie married Dorothy Johanson from Ferintosh in 1947. They raised two children, Leanna and Ronald. After selling the Bearspaw Service Station they moved to Water Valley. Cliff and Dorothy enjoyed the slower pace and became active in their new community. After Cliff’s death in 1981, Dorothy moved to Cochrane where she passed away in 2006. 

Leanna married Lorne Patemore. Ronald married Lynn Ellen Helgason. They have five children: Russel in Calgary, Mark in Spain, Ron Jr. a teacher in Coleman, Alberta, Chad in Nanaimo, British Columbia who is into music, and Tayah. Ron and Lynn live at Chestermere Lake, Alberta and do landscaping. 

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