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Ryan's gas stop hits sad note for famed tunesmith
By Lucy Scholey
Wayne Rostad may have had "a coke and a smoke" many times at "Ryan's BP Station," but it seems the award-winning musician won't be making any more stops at the familiar Alcove garage.
The Canadian icon - known for his CBC show, On the Road Again, and his musical storytelling - also penned the familiar song about Ryan's Garage, a BP station in earlier days.
Rostad said he was saddened to hear news of the garage's sofar indefinite closure.
"This could very much be an end of an era for that part of the highway," he told the Low Down. "It was a real crossroads there."
Rostad spent his summers at Stag Lake near Low during the 1970s.
Desiring to "get back to the land," the Ottawa native said he wrote most of his songs in his log cabin and often played at Brennan's Hill Hotel.
Ryan's was like a "beacon" where he would stop to fuel up on gas and gossip.
"The station and its clientele and Doug (Ryan) and his wife appealed to me from the get-go," he said. "It wasn't unlike the kind of connection you feel with your local barber."
Doug Ryan previously owned the garage, which was started by his father, Harvey Ryan. The younger Ryan - who has been described as the "pillar" of the business - passed away in January 2010 at the age of 66.
Ryan's Garage closed near the holiday time in December, but didn't reopen in the new year. With no informative signage out front, it left a huge part of its clientele without a local towing service and a fuel source.
While rural gas station closures might be a sign of the times in the Gatineau Hills, it's still unclear why Ryan's closed and whether it will reopen. The owners have not returned Low Down calls.
In 2010, the Francis Fuels gas station in Masham closed. Previous owner and current La Peche councillor, Jean-Paul Brisebois, said his business of 16 years became too expensive to maintain. A Poltimore gas station also closed a year later.
Dan Faasen, co-owner of La Vallee Restaurant, has tried opening a gas station, but said between the oil companies and provincial tax hikes, it's not fi- nancially viable.
However, Garage J.F. Gauvreau reopened its Masham pumps in July 2011.
Meanwhile, Rostad said he's still writing music and makes the occasional trip to the Gatineau Hills. The famed Gatineau Clog host has not played a show in the region in the past couple of years.