Hall of famer has a lot of drive

(Bob) Adair always has somewhere to go. At age 72, he still hauls the mail to Keno three times a week and drives the school bus route in Mayo, where he lives.

Robert (Bob) Adair always has somewhere to go.

At age 72, he still hauls the mail to Keno three times a week and drives the school bus route in Mayo, where he lives.

Adair has operated Mayo Taxi and Bus Service, the longest operating taxi service in the Yukon, for 38 years.

Driving taxi was never “a big money maker,” said Adair, but meeting and talking to people was always a payoff.

And sometimes the rewards are surprising.

This year, Adair received the Yukon Transportation Museum Hall of Fame’s Person of the Year Award, after nomination by the Village of Mayo.

Driving was “something I’ve been doing all my life that I’ve enjoyed (and) I never expected to get an award for it,” he said.

Now in semi-retirement, Adair works 20 hours a week.

“(It’s) good to keep me occupied,” he said. “Otherwise, I’d go stir-crazy.”

Adair has driven trucks, taxis and buses for 54 years in the Mayo and Keno area. He was issued one of the first Public Service Vehicle Licences in the Yukon.

Adair will always be working in some way, and his efforts for the region deserved recognition, said Mayo Mayor Scott Bolton.

“Bob will be semi-retired until he’s buried,” he said, noting Adair sometimes drove the community’s ambulance and has always helped out in times of need.

“The guy has done so much,” said Bolton.

In 1970, Adair was driving with three other people to Elsa for work and came across a vehicle that had veered off an icy road.

Mayo’s Louise Volf was having a baby, and the car she was driving in, with her husband and her doctor, slid off the road into a ditch.

Despite the treacherously slick roads, Adair rescued Volf, driving her to the Mayo hospital. She gave birth to a baby girl three hours later.

Delivering goods, people and the occasional baby is nothing new to Adair, who has been navigating the territory’s roads since the early 1950s.

He arrived in the Yukon with his mother and two younger brothers in 1949.

When he first lived in Keno with his parents, there were a couple thousand people around and business was plentiful.

“It was a vibrant town,” Adair said of Keno. “(Business) was as common as getting up in the morning.”

He would ferry workers from the mines to the mill or, if the day was over, to play poker.

“They loved to gamble,” he said of the men who worked in the mines.

At the time, Adair was 17—the youngest taxi driver in Canada, according to the Village of Mayo.

He was attending school and driving the taxi in Keno before moving to Mayo in 1951.

There, Adair continued to haul gravel or ore down the highway and do odd jobs for United Keno Hill Mines until 1971, the year he took over Mayo Taxi and Bus Service.

Business slowed down greatly after Keno’s silver mine shut down in 1989, said Adair.

However, though business slowed there was still a demand for the service. Adair continued to offer charters and tours, driving people around during events, such as the Mayo Centennial, or showing visitors highlights of the Silver Trail Region.

These days, life has slowed down some more. He spends his free time talking to friends and residents of Mayo and family in Dawson.

“I generally just visit around,” he said.

Adair attended Tuesday night’s award ceremony.

Bolton stayed behind in Mayo.

“I have to cover for him here,” he said.

This was the 13th annual Yukon Transportation Museum Hall of Fame Awards. Inductees are selected by an independent panel of judges. The awards honour people who have contributed significantly to transportation in the Yukon.

Samantha Anderson is a freelance

writer who lives in Whitehorse.