ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth

The History of Western Flyer Coach Ltd., 1930-1986


Western Auto and Truck Body Works founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba by John Coval with five employees. They built their first bus for Red River Motor Coach Lines.


Manitoba Motor Transit Ltd. was founded, operating bus routes from Brandon Manitoba to points throughout Northern and western Manitoba. A Western Auto and Truck Body Works bus was on the first regularly-scheduled route into the northern community of Swan River, Manitoba.


Developed 12-passenger sedan for Brewster Transport Ltd. in Banff, Alberta. Brewster ordered hundreds of buses of various custom designs throughout this, their expansion era. The open-top buses built by Western Auto and Truck Body Works had Ford chassis. Later, some of the first glass-top buses built by Western were delivered to Brewster.


Western Auto and Truck Body Works introduced the 28-passenger Western Flyer, - the first front-engine, intercity bus. These buses had the engine inside the coach body. A variety of engines were offered, with the International Red Diamond 450 gasoline engine the one most commonly used. One Western Flyer bus for International Transit Ltd. had a British Leyland chassis and diesel engine.


Developed the first Brucks, combination passenger and freight vehicles. Canadian Coachways, Ltd. operated a number of Brucks in Canada's far north for a number of year


The T-32, a 32-passenger highway coach, was developed. It was 31.5 feet long and 96 inches wide.

Focussed now on building buses, Western Auto and Truck Body Works is renamed Western Flyer Coach Ltd.


Delivered two sightseeing buses to Salt Lake Transportation Co., believed to be the first time a Canadian firm had sold to the US.


Built more than 350 buses for troop transportation for the Canadian Department of National Defense and for the US Air Force over a 20-year period. Built C-40 and T-40 both for the armed forces and for inter-city and transit bus companies. The International Red Diamond 450 gasoline engines were most commonly used. Buda, Dodge and Ford engines were specified by some Western Flyer customers.


Built three buses for the Department of National Defense. Additional air-intake louvres replaced the destination sign and the bus had one two-leaf folding door. The design was adapted to build one C-33 city bus, the first Western Flyer city bus. It had two bi-fold passenger doors and was in service by Northern Bus Lines, Ltd. in Flin Flon, a rugged northern Manitoba mining center.


Western Flyer introduced the Canuck, an entirely new design that accommodated 33 passengers and had a choice of the International Red Diamond engine or a Cummins diesel engine. It was the first rear-engine bus built by Western.


Manufactured four "deck-and-a-half" Model T36-40 2L buses for three Manitoba intercity bus companies.

Introduced the Canuck P-37 redesigned with new up-to-date styling and technology carrying up to 37 passengers.


Introduced P-41 Canuck, which was larger than the 1953 Canuck, carrying up to 41 passengers and had a Cummins JT6B diesel engine.


Expanded into the new Fort Garry Winnipeg plant due to exceptional growth and in preparation for expansion into transit bus manufacturing.

Developed Canuck 500 intercity bus.


Introduced the Canuck 600 (seen to the right) for the intercity market.

Introduced Western Flyer Coach's first transit bus, the D700.

The Toronto Transit Commission has an excellent article by James Bow about their relationship with Western Flyer, as well as over 70 photos from that period - see The Third Generation: The Western Flyer Rebuilds (1968-1992).


Developed the first 700E electric trolley coach. First order of the restyled coach was by Toronto Transit Commission (part of a 150-bus and trolley bus order).


The Toronto Transit Commission placed an initial order for ten D700A buses, which were delivered later that year.


Financially struggling Western Flyer was sold to the Manitoba Development Corporation, an agency of the Manitoba government, and renamed Flyer Industries Ltd.

In 1973, Flyer developed the successful Series 800 buses. Over the next six years, they built 580 diesel buses and 558 trolley coaches.

In 1977, Flyer delivered 343 E800 trolley coaches to the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

In 1978, the D901 was developed, with a curved front body and curved glass windshield sections to maximize visibility.

In 1986, Flyer Industries was acquired by Jan den Oudsten and renamed New Flyer Industries.

Bus & Motorcoach History: Yukon & Northern British Columbia