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Service with a smile: 32 years of pumping propane on the Cariboo Highway

Miles St. Amand, from Best Buy Propane, is just about one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet
Always with a smile on his face, Miles St. Amand has been working at the gas station, now called Best Buy Propane, for 32 years. (Kim Kimberlin photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

He’s a quiet man by nature, but just about the kindest and happiest one you’ll ever meet.

You’ll find Miles St. Amand Monday through Friday at Best Buy Propane on Cariboo Hwy, where he’s been working since Oct. 1, 1991, he said — the only thing he had written down on a piece of paper when meeting with the Tribune.

In 1991, the gas station was called Del’s Propane and was located down by CN Rail. It’s now located next to Tim Hortons and is owned by Cariboo Propane (owned by Scott Nelson and his son, Lucas).

Thirty-two years later, St. Amand is still the friendly face at the gas station and is described by his co-workers Spencer Stratton and Atticus Gorisek as a staple to the business.

“Without Miles here, it wouldn’t be the same. He’s the piece of the puzzle we couldn’t lose,” said Gorisek.

“He’s amazing. There’s never a dull or boring day with Miles,” said Stratton.

St. Amand was born in Quesnel on June 12, 1964, to Denis and Edna. The third of four children (two sisters and a brother), his family moved to Williams Lake in 1972 after his Dad, who worked in the forestry industry, was transferred here.

He graduated in 1985 from Columneetza Secondary School and then worked for a printing business for a year before working for Intercity Gas.

“[Gas] was 18.9 cents a litre. I wish it were that now,” he chuckled.

Four years later, he left and joined what’s now Best Buy Propane.

What keeps him at the same job 32 years later?

“Who am I going to meet today?” he replied, noting he’s met customers as far as Italy and Australia and, of course, lots of locals.

“I may not know all of their names, but we talk like old friends,” he said with a smile. “I really enjoy the customers. You meet all kinds of people.”

Along with a good pay cheque, he said, the owners sometimes get lunch for the employees.

“We all get along, too,” he said of them and his co-workers.

A notable moment for him was last year when Scott and Lucas took him and a few others down to Vancouver to see a Canucks game, celebrating St. Amand’s 31st year with the company. The Canucks lost, but he didn’t care; it was fun a trip and he met Curtis Lazar (a former Canucks player who is now with the New Jersey Devils).

St. Amand lives with his parents, whom he helps care for, though they’re still in good health, he said. Some evenings he’ll watch hockey or football on TV, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he has other plans.

On Tuesday nights he drums with his rock band, Bootleg. The seven-member band, which also consists of his brother and sister-in-law, played for the Stampede one year, and has also played for the Curling Club, at the arena and for some house parties.

St. Amand recalled riding bikes with his brother when he was in Grade 6 and coming across the neighbours who were playing music in their chicken coop. The drummer wasn’t there, so he was encouraged to sit behind the drum set and play.

“Within an hour I could do a standard rock beat, and I was hooked.”

His parents later purchased St. Amand a drum set, which he’d plug his headphones into his record player and play along with.

“I must’ve driven mom and dad crazy,” he said, for his parents could only hear the drums he was banging on, not the music he was listening to.

His parents still own his childhood home in Chimney Valley, which his sister now lives in. He and his parents moved out of the house and into town in 2021. As for the drums, they now meet at his brother’s house to play.

On Thursday nights he bowls with a bowling league, something he’s done since working at Del’s Propane. Two co-workers (who have since moved away) said they should start a bowling league, and that’s precisely what they did.

St. Amand’s loyalty stands the test of time, and when asked what keeps him smiling, he smiled and said: “The community here is home for me. Not only are they my customers, but they’re my friends. I don’t think there’s anyone I don’t get along with. I just smile and be the best I can.”

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Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

About the Author: Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

I joined Black Press Media in 2022, and have a passion for covering topics on women’s rights, 2SLGBTQIA+ and racial issues, mental health and the arts.
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