Lawrence Sharkey began his storied career with Diversified Transportation in Edmonton. Affectionately nicknamed “Bunker” due to his striking resemblance and mannerisms to the iconic TV character Archie Bunker, Lawrence accepted a position with DTL in Fort McMurray in 1976. This decision prompted the Sharkey family to relocate north, a move that included driving bus number 239 from Edmonton to Fort McMurray – a bus that would become iconic in Lawrence’s career.

Settling into Fort McMurray

Upon arrival in Fort McMurray, the Sharkey family settled into a company-owned mobile home on Golosky Avenue. The relocation marked the beginning of a new chapter for the Sharkeys and set the stage for a deep-rooted connection with the community and DTL.

The Legendary Bus 239

Bus number 239 wasn’t just a vehicle; it was an extension of Lawrence himself. From the day he drove it to Fort McMurray, Lawrence was the sole driver of Bus 239 until his retirement over a decade later. His dedication to that bus symbolized his commitment to his work and his impeccable driving record.

When Lawrence retired in the late 1980s, Bus 239 was also retired, marking the end of an era. In recognition of his outstanding service and safe driving record, Lawrence received a replica model of Bus 239 and a prestigious belt buckle plaque for his impeccable safety record from 1976-1977.

Family Ties and Contributions

The Sharkey family was deeply intertwined with DTL and the transportation industry. Lawrence’s wife drove a school bus and later a transit bus until the early 1980s. Their son, Keith, worked part-time at DTL and became a respected driving instructor at Keyano College for 25 years.

Dwayne, another son, began his career with DTL in October 1983, starting in dispatch. His career with the company spanned several roles, including Syncrude Contract Manager until 2004 and later as Operations Manager. Dwayne’s tenure was marked by multiple returns to the company, illustrating his dedication until his passing in 2018.

Lawrence’s daughter, Shannon Peats, continues the family’s legacy in the transportation industry. She currently serves as a Transit Inspector with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. She vividly remembers the first time her family made the long trek to Fort McMurray.

“My dad drove a taxi in Edmonton and then started with Diversified, and that’s when we moved up to Fort McMurray in 1976”, Shannon explains. “I was six-years-old when we drove up from Edmonton. My dad was already working there, and I recall riding up with my mom and my eight-year-old sister Tammy – thinking we’d never get there because of the long drive!”

Shannon is incredibly proud of the impact her family has made in the transportation industry.

“Transportation runs in my family – I grew up with it my whole life,”  Shannon adds. “Dad drove with DTL until he retired in 1986-87, and I know that he was so very proud to be a bus driver. My grandfather started a bus service and my two brothers were at Diversified as well – my brother Keith and my brother Dwayne. My mom, Olga Sharkey, was also one of the first transit drivers when Diversified started the transit contract in the early 80s.”

Growing up around the Diversified staff also made her feel like DTL was part of her extended family.

“I remember getting a tour of the Diversified barn downtown because I was starting to drive school bus in Fort McMurray. Roger Pigdon and Allan Askeland saw me, and because they’ve known me since I was six years old, they said what are you doing driving a school bus? You should be driving a coach and carry on the family legacy!”

Legacy and Impact

Lawrence Sharkey’s life and career with Diversified Transportation reflect not only his personal dedication but also the broader impact of his family on the company and community. His unwavering commitment to safety and service left an indelible mark on DTL. The retirement of Bus 239 alongside Lawrence stands as a testament to his exceptional career.

The Sharkey family’s ongoing involvement with DTL showcases a remarkable legacy of service and dedication woven into the fabric of Fort McMurray’s transportation history. From Lawrence’s safe driving accolades to his children’s various contributions, the Sharkeys are a testament to the enduring spirit and commitment that drive the wheels of Fort McMurray and Diversified Transportation.

“My brothers and my dad were very honoured to work for Diversified, and I know that they loved their jobs. My dad was a proud driver, a very proud driver. He was the one who encouraged my brothers, especially Dwayne, to work for DTL.”

Lawrence Sharkey’s journey from Edmonton to Fort McMurray, marked by his renowned stewardship of Bus 239, is a tale of dedication, family, and community. His story, along with his family’s contributions, highlights the essential role transportation workers play in the lifeblood of a growing company.

Lawrence passed away in October 1993, and as we celebrate our 60th Anniversary, everyone at Diversified Transportation is honoured to pay tribute to Lawrence’s memory and salute the entire Sharkey family for their wonderful contributions to our rich history.