The Bush family’s multi-generational connection spans 70 years and counting.
When Chane Bush first came to SAIT in 1957, Heritage Hall was the biggest building he’d seen in his entire life.
He remembers registration day vividly – the layers of imposing red-brown brick towering over the campus, hallways brimming with new students on the first day of school.
“It was a zoo,” Bush recalls. “I’d never been in such a big building in my life.”
After Grade 12, he moved to Calgary to enrol at SAIT, known then as the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA), or Tech for short.
He chose to study Automated Services Technology, building on the mechanic skills he had honed keeping his family’s car in working order. “If I wanted to use the old car, there was always some fixing to be done.”
Like father, like son
In coming to PITA, Chane was following in the footsteps of his father, Vernon Bush. Family legend tells how, in the 1940s, Vernon was running a blacksmith shop without a license in McLaughlin. An inspector caught wind of his operation, fined him, and encouraged him to go to Calgary for training.
So, in 1948, Vernon graduated from PITA as a certified welder at the age of 47.
From left: Roy Volkmann (EET '80), Jerrod Jarocki Chaisson (Plumbing '14), Glenda Bush (CET '08), Chane Bush (AST '59), Joan Bush (SAIT nurse for 24 years), Greg Bush (Carpenter '92) , Julie Flemming (current student, Legal Assistant diploma program).
PITA was equally important in the life of Vernon’s son Chane Bush. After his first year at PITA, Chane was awarded the Calgary Motor Products scholarship for academic achievement. The company liked him so much, he was hired as a part-time mechanic while completing his second year, and then as a full-time employee after graduation.
Six years later, Chane was recruited as an instructor for SAIT’s automotive department.
“My life changed drastically,” he says. “I went from being a flat-rate technician to being an automotive instructor, a position I held for 30 years.” Chane was presented with the Ralph T. Scurfield Award of Excellence for Special Contribution and Achievement in 1987.
And Chane’s family connections with SAIT continued to grow when he married his high school sweetheart, Joan Elliott. Her father Alwyn Elliott attended the aeronautics program during the 1930s, until the tough times of the Great Depression required him to return to farming.
Joan in turn accepted a position as an occupational hazard nurse at SAIT soon after she and Chane were married. “She already had a working knowledge of the campus, and knew quite a few people there,” Chane says.
Two of Chane and Joan’s three children went on to graduate from SAIT and each has fond memories of their time on campus.
“It always felt very homey,” says son Greg Bush, who graduated from SAIT’s Carpentry Apprentice program in 1992.
Glenda Bush graduated from the Chemical Engineering Technology program in 2008.
“We’re definitely a SAIT family,” Glenda says, “and it seems to be continuing.” Roy Volkmann, her husband, graduated from SAIT in 1980 as an electrical engineer, and their children both have significant others with SAIT connections.
Looking back, moving forward
Even though each member of the family has gone on their own journey, they keep coming back to SAIT. Chane is proud that his children grew up knowing campus like a second home even before they attended SAIT and that the Institute went on to play a large part in their success. He’s happy to see them make their own memories with a community so close to his heart.
With SAIT’s 100th birthday coming up in October, Chane says his family is excited for the opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future with the school that has grown alongside them.
“Tech has been a big part of my life,” Chane says. In his education, career and family, the Institute has been instrumental in building memories that Chane will keep forever.
“SAIT has been very good to us.”
This year’s convocation celebrates a new generation of alumni, many with family ties to this school. Is SAIT a part of your family tree? Share your story with us!
Article written by Jolisa Tweedie