Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

For the love of service

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Nov 05/04) - Lynn and Wayne McKay are savouring a little break in the action these days.

Freeze-up and break-up result in up to a 70 per cent drop in traffic at their restaurant, gas bar and motel, located at the junction of the Mackenzie Highway and Liard Trail.

Most of the year, they regularly work 16-hour days, seven days per week getting customers fed, fuelled, rested and on their way.

"It's a lifestyle," Lynn says, sitting at one of tables in their restaurant.

"You're geared just to go all day," Wayne adds. "You have to do it. People depend on you, that's the way I look at it."

Since taking over the operation in September 1997, the McKays have found out just how many people rely on them. They get plenty of phone calls from people wondering if a specific vehicle has driven past or if so-and-so is there yet. They often field inquiries about the ferry service, road conditions and the bus schedule. Pilots call to check on cloud cover in the area.

They have regular customers from Fort Simpson who make the trip for a meal. Tourists also come through their doors frequently, sometimes in need of assistance.

This past summer an 82-year-old couple from Las Vegas won their hearts, pulling into their establishment with a camper towed by a pick-up truck that they were able to get in and out of, but just barely.

"You sure do meet some interesting people," Lynn says.

The McKays have completed a number of upgrades since '97, including the electrical, power, sewer, water and communications systems.

The area is powered by a diesel generator, which Wayne -- a jack of all trades -- maintains.

They've also had help from their stalwart sons: Steven, 23, Sheldon, 17, and Jeffrey, 12.

"We wouldn't have made it without the kids," Lynn admits.

Being in a rather remote location and working side by side every day could be a source of tension for a couple, but the McKays seem to have found a groove.

"As long as he understands that I'm the boss..." says Lynn.

"I've got no problem with that," Wayne replies, smiling.