Whitehorse transit redefines door to door service

There’s an old saying: holding the key is no good if you can’t find the house. Mark Mistelbacher learned this the hard way last week…

There’s an old saying: holding the key is no good if you can’t find the house.

Mark Mistelbacher learned this the hard way last week after an evening of festivities at the Canada Winter Games.

The Winnipeg man found his key. He found the bus. But he couldn’t find the house he’d rented for the Games.

Now he’ll never forget the place.

 “Thirty-five Emerald — I’ll never forget the street again!” said Mistelbacher with a laugh as he banged his hand down on the table at a local bar on Friday afternoon.

A tall man, Mistelbacher cut a striking figure with a waxed mustache and a bright yellow Manitoba team scarf looped around his fur hat.

Mistelbacher’s tale began late on Saturday night when he arrived in Whitehorse. The next morning, he awoke excited to watch some sports.

That afternoon, he walked down to the Games centre from his Homestay residence in Copper Ridge.

But by the time he boarded driver Steven Saswirsky’s bus to go home at nearly 10 p.m. that night, he had forgotten where home was.

“I didn’t have a clue what my street was, or phone number or anything and I was with this bus driver Steve.

“I was getting a little worried,” said the Manitoban with a laugh.

All he had was a key, and a general idea of where he wandered down from.

So Saswirsky drove the visitor around the Copper Ridge neighbourhood, trying his key in front door locks until it finally fit.

It took nearly 90 minutes of looking.

The bus driver retraced the route back from the arena until streets and houses began to look familiar.

“He stopped at a few houses and I had to go look in the window,” said Mistelbacher.

“It’s hard to remember how many I checked — it was a long night and the Yukon beer here is pretty good,” he said with a laugh.

“We couldn’t leave him outside, it was minus 30,” said city transit manager Dave Muir, who was in radio contact with the driver from his home until after midnight on Sunday.

That night, Muir also received a call from Canada Games’ general manager Chris Morrissey.

“He thought that somebody had stolen the bus and was joyriding it through the neighbourhood,” said Muir with a laugh.

Whitehorse transit’s exceptional effort means that Mistelbacher will return home having learned a few new things about the North.

He’s experienced the legendary northern hospitality first hand.

“I thought that Steve was a great guy,” he said.

The two reunited  a few days later when Mistelbacher tried to board Saswirsky’s bus again.

“He shut the doors, he wasn’t going to let me on, but he was just joking — he’s a very friendly man.

“We had a big laugh about it,” he added.

Mistelbacher also learned how to dress for Whitehorse’s weather.

“I’ll tell you, in Winnipeg I wear one pair of underwear; up here I wear two — it’s cold,” he added with a hearty laugh.