Article 36 April/May 2012

Vancouver's Exclusive Ambulance

Exclusive Ambulance was formed in 1927 as a partnership by R. J. Campbell, W. L. Bertrand and Joe Crellin. The Exclusive name was appropriate as they transported 'live' patients exclusively and would not act as a body transfer.

By 1938 Exclusive was headquartered in an impressive facility (originally a fire hall) located at 710 West 13th Avenue. In contrast, most commercial ambulance services of the era had to make do with much less.

Exclusive had some interesting vehicles as shown in the photo: (L to R) a new 1940 Buick that had been converted into an ambulance by a Vancouver truck body manufacturer; a 1927 Studebaker that had been professionally manufactured as an ambulance by the Superior Corporation in Lima, Ohio; a 1936 Oldsmobile, also locally built; and two Chrysler sedans, a 1937 and a 1939, both of which had been converted into side-loading invalid cars. All of their vehicles were equipped with a forward-facing red light mounted onto the roof and all but the Studebaker also had a siren, (in a photo of Exclusive ambulances taken three years earlier no sirens are visible).

Exclusive Ambulance saw their impressive building destroyed by fire on Halloween night, 1956. The Vancouver Providence reported "five ambulance drivers and attendants escaped the 1 a.m. fire without injury. All five ambulances were saved." After the fire, Exclusive Ambulance was invited to share facilities with their competitor, Kingsway Ambulance. During the following year this co-operation led to an amalgamation of all three of Vancouver's ambulance services (Exclusive, Kingsway and Associated), to form Metropolitan Ambulance Service. Metro continued providing service to Vancouver residents up until 1974 when the B.C. Government took over all ambulance services in the province.

Copyright 2012 Peter Adsten

Photo courtesy Bruce Harford Column

Exclusive Ambulance headquarters, 1940