Debbie Falconer, owner of Old School Bus Ice Cream
Debbie Falconer says ice cream makes people happy.
She has lived in the Bow Valley for 20 years and spent 17 of them selling ice cream.
“Old School Bus Ice Cream was on Main Street for two summers, then moved to 10th Street while the Main Street lot changed owners. Then we moved back to Main Street for 12 more summers,” Falconer said. “We would start the old girl in spring and drive her from storage to the empty parking lot next to Ralph Connor Memorial Church. In the fall, we would fire her back up to go back to storage. She can be a bit cantankerous at times.”
Falconer was born in Idaho.
“I fell in love with a dashing Canadian boy,” Falconer said. “We married and moved to Canmore in 2001.”
They quickly fell in love with Canmore, she said.
“Our first boy, Ocean Blue, was born in 2002. He was born with a deletion of his second 17th chromosome, which has presented with some specific needs but he is the very definition of joy,” Falconer said. “Our daughter, Meadow, was born in 2005, the same summer we purchased an old school bus from a friend with the intent of selling ice cream. At that time, Canmore did not have an ice cream shop and we believed one was needed for those long summer days. It’s a much-deserved treat after adventuring in the mountains. We had two more kiddos, Samuel Forest in 2007, and Willow in 2010.”
Over the years, they have had several ice cream suppliers.
“We settled on Chapman’s, a Canadian company that provides a consistently delicious product,” Falconer said. “We have around 28 flavours, also available in milkshakes. This fluctuates with demand, and disappointment is palpable when we have to relate we have sold out of either Bubble Gum, the favourite of our littlest patrons, or Cookie Dough, which seems to be first choice for the adult who is a kid at heart.”
Their ice cream is delivered from Edmonton in a freezer truck twice a week.
“You’ll often see us at 7 am hand bombing those pails into the bus and storage container,” Falconer said. “Cross Fit at its best.”
They believe simple is best, and offer ice cream in a choice of regular cone, waffle cone, sugar cone or a compostable bowl and wooden spoon.
“We also offer Hawaiian shaved ice and recommend a little scoop of ice cream underneath it,” Falconer said. “Thirsty? We have locally made Grizzly Paw sodas. And this year we have committed to no longer selling plastic water bottles and now sell North water in aluminium bottles from Calgary.”
Their goal is to open by May long weekend every year.
“However, our opening day does fluctuate depending on time frame needed to obtain the lease and development permit,” Falconer said. “We have shorter hours on weekdays until June 21, then we are open 11-10 pm daily. We wrap up our season after September long as kids return to school and the days become a little cooler.”
This will be their second summer in a row at our their location on 10th Street.
“When Covid made its appearance, there was a lot of uncertainty for the Bus,” Falconer said. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure I had the energy anymore to navigate the challenging circumstances required.”
But she quickly changed her mind.
“It was the kids,” Falconer said. “The kids that saw me on the street or in a parking lot, and asked if the Bus was returning. I realized if we were only able to open for a week, it would be worth it to bring smiles to these kids that had experienced their world being turned upside down.”
The Trough restaurant owners contacted Falconer and offered her space behind their restaurant in partnership with their food truck, Trotters.
“We actually enjoyed the change and the coziness of the new space was perfect for the times,” Falconer said. “As you may know, Trough sold over the winter and the new owners have opened an amazing new place to get delicious eats, Kain Tayo. They have graciously offered us a lease for summer 2021 and I believe we will compliment each other perfectly.”
Falconer thinks that making the decision to close Main Street to vehicles was a necessary one and although she doesn’t want to answer for Main Street businesses, she thinks this has benefitted them.
“As for Old School Ice Cream, people have found us one block over and even though the lines are long on a hot summer weekend day, we see lots of familiar faces on weekdays,” Falconer said. “Come see us, we love seeing you smile!”