Take me home, Jeeves!
Fort Simpson's dirt roads don't deter enterprising resident

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson ( Jun 02/00) - Roll out the red carpet, businessman Yanni Yan has brought a limousine service to Fort Simpson.

Yan drove the lengthy, eye-catching 1989 Lincoln Town Car to Fort Simpson from southern B.C. late last week. He has an auto dealership there and he said he jumped at the opportunity to purchase the former airport limo.

"I've been looking for one for a year, but it had to be the right one," he said. "They (his friends) were all thinking I was joking."

The long trip from Vancouver wasn't as costly as one might expect. He said the car actually runs on propane -- he has no plans to use it during the cold days of winter -- and he travelled 600 kilometres on one $50 tank. However, he drove slowly while on the bumpy, rocky stretch between the Fort Providence junction and Fort Simpson to minimize the risk of damage.

"I take my time to come back here. It took me six or seven hours to come back (from the junction)," he noted.

He added that the road to the airport is due to be chip-sealed this summer, so it won't be such a rough ride locally.

The navy blue luxury car has a moonroof, a divider between the driver and passengers, a cool storage area for drinks, air conditioning, tinted windows, and a variety of fancy interior lights. Yan said he plans to install a television as well.

"Everyone thinks it's great. We need something like this here," he said, adding that a few delegates at the NWT Association of Municipalities meeting were the first ones to rent it.

Yan, who plans to have his taxi driver be the chauffeur, had an employee washing the limo on Monday afternoon when resident Ray Michaud stopped by to check out the new attraction.

"There's an advantage to having this thing when you hit a pot hole, you can slow down so you don't wreck the back end," Michaud said of the stretched vehicle that requires two parking spots in urban settings.

Shortly after they debated whether the investment will prove profitable, two community members reserved it for an hour for this weekend's graduation ceremony.

"See, I told you I'm going to make money," Yan said, asking that the price he paid for the car not be published.

The limousine is only the most recent addition to his collection of vehicles, which includes a 1964 Parisienne convertible. A community member suggested he buy a hearse next, but Yan said he's not interested.